Life Travel Plane’s exploding engine pelts US town with barrage of debris

Plane’s exploding engine pelts US town with barrage of debris

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A US flight bound for Honolulu has landed safely in Denver despite one of its engines failing, scattering debris over a Colorado town.

United Airlines said there were no reported injuries on Flight 328, which had 231 passengers and 10 crew on board.

It landed half an hour after take-off.

Police in the Colorado town of Broomfield posted photos of pieces of debris from the Boeing 777-200 aircraft, but there were no immediate reports of any injuries on the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it and the US National Transportation Safety Board would investigate.

The images posted by the police department appeared to show large pieces of debris, including an engine casing from the plane, scattered outside a home and on a playing field.

A video on social media showed a cloud of black smoke being left by a plane.

“Something blew up,” a man on the video can be heard saying.

Passengers recounted a terrifying ordeal that began to unfold shortly after the plane full of holidaymakers took off.

Its cowling blown away, the engine is licked by tongues of flame. Photo: ABC

The aircraft was almost at cruising altitude and the captain was making an announcement when a large explosion rocked the cabin, accompanied by a bright flash.

“The plane started shaking violently, and we lost altitude and we started going down,” said David Delucia, who was sitting across the aisle from the side with the failed engine.

“When it initially happened, I thought we were done. I thought we were going down.”

Mr Delucia and his wife took their wallets containing their driver’s licenses and put them in their pockets so that “in case we did go down, we could be ID’d.”

On the ground, witnesses also heard the explosion and were scared for those on board.

Local resident Tyler Thal said he was out for a walk with his family when he noticed a large commercial plane flying unusually low. He took out his phone to film it.

No injuries were reported as the exploding engine’s debris rained down. Photo: Broomfield police

“While I was looking at it, I saw an explosion and then the cloud of smoke and some debris falling from it,” Mr Thal said.

“It was just like a speck in the sky, and as I’m watching that, I’m telling my family what I just saw and then we heard the explosion.

“The plane just kind of continued on, and we didn’t see it after that.”

Kirby Klements was inside his house with his wife when they heard a huge booming sound.

A few seconds later, the couple saw a massive piece of debris fly past their window and land in the tray of Mr Klements’ truck, crushing the cab and pushing the vehicle into the dirt.

’Like ash‘

He estimated the circular engine cowling was 4.5 metres in diameter.

Fine pieces of the fibreglass insulation used in the airplane engine also fell from the sky “like ash” for about 10 minutes, he said, and several large chunks of insulation landed in his backyard.

“If it had been 10 feet (three metres) different, it would have landed right on top of the house,” Mr Klements said.

“If anyone had been in the truck, they would have been dead.”

As authorities investigated, aviation safety experts said the plane appeared to have suffered an uncontained and catastrophic engine failure.