Passengers from crippled Pa. plane arrive in Fla.

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Associated Press

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 6:32 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 10:07 AM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Some passengers aboard a plane whose nose gear collapsed on a Philadelphia runway finally made it to South Florida early Friday.

Officials say US Airways Flight 1702 was heading for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday when a tire on the front landing gear blew out, forcing the pilot to abort takeoff at Philadelphia International Airport.

The Airbus A320 jet was carrying 149 passengers and five crew members.

Some of those passengers boarded a new flight that landed in Florida early Friday, and several spoke with local media outlets.

"We started skidding down the runway, people were screaming and crying. It was quite harrowing," Dennis Fee said.

Other passengers said the emergency was over quickly. The plane momentarily got off the ground before slamming back down, and people smelled smoke before getting out into the cold. Many ran away from the plane because they feared it would explode.

"All the sudden we slammed back into the runway and bounced, and we go up a little more and we slam again. It happened very quickly, so we didn't know exactly what was going on," Larry Grant said. "Almost instantaneously people from the back were screaming 'fire, fire,' and so passengers did what they were supposed to do and they pulled the emergency doors over the window, and we started to proceed and the ramps inflated, and we got everybody out. We slid down the ramps, very fast."

A group of Belgian firefighters heading to training in Fort Lauderdale suddenly found themselves assisting with the evacuation.

"We are used to emergencies, but not as victims," said Peter Fredricks.

An airport spokeswoman in Philadelphia said two passengers requested medical attention, but no serious injuries were reported.

The crippled plane was removed from the runway in Philadelphia and taken to a hanger to await examination by investigators. All runways there were reopened as of midmorning Friday.

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