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Commercial airplane catches fire after landing gear collapses at Miami International Airport

By Joe Sutton, Jamiel Lynch and Gregory Wallace, CNN

A commercial airplane whose landing gear collapsed upon arrival Tuesday at Miami International Airport caught fire, officials said, sending passengers and crew scrambling to get to safety.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Dominican Republic-based airline Red Air said there were 130 passengers and 10 crew members on the flight arriving from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Several people were injured, the NTSB added.

In an update following its first day of investigating the accident, the NTSB said it was the left main landing gear that collapsed during landing, sending the aircraft into a grassy area.

“A post-crash fire on the right side of the airplane followed the runway excursion,” it said.

The NTSB has recovered the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, known as the black box, and will transport them to an NTSB lab in Washington, DC, this week. Investigators will also access the inside of the plane once it has been defueled and the aircraft will then be moved to a different location for further exams, the agency added.

‘I thought I was going to die’

Airport spokesman Greg Chin told CNN three people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. They have since been treated and released, Jackson Health System said Wednesday.

“The plane was like jumping and jumping and jumping,” passenger Paola Garcia told CNN affiliate WSVN.

“I thought I was going to die,” Garcia said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was landing on a flight from Philadelphia at the time, according to WSVN, and went to investigate.

“Apparently a tire burst, and then it went back up and came back down, and the landing was so hard, that the entire landing apparatus was destroyed and the belly of the plane is on the ground,” Levine Cava said.

“What happened here is a miracle,” she said.

The mayor’s account could not immediately be confirmed.

Miami International Airport tweeted that the landing gear in the nose of the plane collapsed.

When fire crews arrived on scene, they saw the wing of the aircraft was on fire, said Erika Benitez, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue.

Crews used specialized foam trucks and conducted a search to ensure all passengers were off the aircraft.

Crews also worked to mitigate fuel spillage, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue said.

The airline said the plane “had technical difficulties after landing at the Miami International Airport (MIA),” but did not provide further details about the incident.

“At RED Air we express our absolute solidarity with the passengers and crew of the aircraft,” the company said in the statement.

The Dominican Civil Aviation Institute is also investigating the incident and working with Miami authorities, Red Air said.

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CNN’s Abel Alvarado and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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