Jet veers off Denver runway, hurts 36

A Continental Airlines flight carrying 112 people veered off a runway at Denver International Airport as it attempted to take off Saturday evening, catching fire as passengers escaped down emergency slides.

At least 36 people were injured, officials said.

The Boeing 737 was heading to Houston at 6:18 p.m. when some passengers reported that the plane nosed up into the air, then dropped down with a jolt. It landed in a ravine, where passengers evacuated.

“It’s way too early for anyone to know what caused the accident,” said Kim Day, manager of aviation at the Denver airport.

The plane was carrying 107 passengers and five crew members, Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark told the Associated Press.

The weather in Denver was cold but not snowy.

Some passengers on Flight 1404 described an explosion and fire on the right wing as the plane skidded to a halt.


Firefighters arrived to find the right side of the aircraft engulfed in flame, Denver Fire Chief Patrick Hynes said. Inside the cabin, he said, overhead luggage compartments had melted onto the seats.

Passengers described a chaotic and frightening scene.

“There was already smoke in the cabin and people were jumping over seats. . . . Everyone was pushing and shoving and everyone was falling a little because the wing was smashed on the side, so people were slipping, but most of us got out OK,” Alex Zamora told Denver’s Channel 7.

“Everybody was yelling, ‘The plane’s going to blow up, the plane’s going to blow up!’ The plane was on fire -- the engine was, anyway,” Gabriel Trejos said in an interview with 9News.

Fire officials said the passengers’ injuries included broken bones, bruises and at least one head injury.

The incident caused some delays in Denver as well as other cities, including Los Angeles.

Departing flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Denver were delayed at least 90 minutes, the Federal Aviation Administration said.