Plane carrying 154 overshoots runway in Jamaica
Fuselage broke apart as jet stopped just short of the ocean
Three Canadians were on the plane. The Canadian High Commission in Kingston is trying to get in touch with those passengers to determine their condition.
Flight 331 took off from Miami International Airport at 8:52 p.m. ET and arrived at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport at 10:22 p.m. ET. The flight originated at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. It was carrying 148 passengers and six crew members.
The plane reportedly skidded across a road at Norman Manley International Airport while landing during a heavy rainstorm, and halted at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, apparently prevented from going into the water only by the upward slope of the sand. The nose of the jet was less than three metres from the water.
Jamaican Information Minister Daryl Vaz said "the airplane is broken in two" and that 44 people were taken to Kingston Public Hospital. He said some others were taken elsewhere or treated at the airport.
One report said the plane, a Boeing 737-800, skidded off the runway and broke through a perimeter fence, coming to rest in water.
The plane's fuselage was cracked, its right engine broke off from the impact and the left main landing gear collapsed, said Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman at the company's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
Passenger Verona Hall told the Jamaica Observer: "It was a rough landing, we could no longer see the lights of Kingston. The plane broke and we could suddenly smell fuel."
One passenger on the plane, American aid worker Sean Osner, said the aircraft was on the ground for five to 10 seconds before it skidded off the runway and broke up.
"My first instinct was to get off the plane because of the fuel that was leaking," Osner told CBC News.
Seated near one of the places where the plane's fuselage broke, Osner said he was out of the plane within 15 seconds of the crash, one of the first people to get out.
"I'm doing pretty well, all things considered," he said. Osner said he has some lacerations on his hand and some bruised ribs.
Speaking to The Associated Press, passenger Pilar Abaurrea described a chaotic scene as the plane skidded along the runway in heavy rain.
"All of a sudden, when it hit the ground, the plane was kind of bouncing, someone said the plane was skidding and there was panic," Abaurrea, of Keene, N.H., said in a telephone interview.
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With files from The Associated Press