DENVER — It was a miracle that no one was killed Saturday when an airliner veered off a runway during takeoff and burst into flames, firefighters said Sunday.
There was no official word on the cause of the crash of Continental Flight 1404 at Denver International Airport, which injured 38 people. Flight data and cockpit voice recorders were recovered and appeared to be in good condition, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday.
The weather was clear but cold when the plane attempted to take off for Houston around 6:20 p.m. Winds at the airport were 31 mph, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
"No other aircraft opted against taking off due to wind" before Flight 1404 tried to lift off, Gregor said.
The entire right side of the Boeing 737-500 was burned. Investigators said the plane's left engine was ripped away along with all the landing gear.
"It was a miracle … that everybody survived the impact and the fire," said Bill Davis, an assistant Denver fire chief assigned to the airport. "It was just amazing."
A crack encircled much of the fuselage near the trailing edge of the wings, Davis said.
Davis, one of the firefighters who went to the scene, said the plane came to a rest about 200 yards from one of the airport's four fire stations. The 110 passengers and five crew members escaped on emergency slides, walked out of a 40-foot ravine in 24-degree cold and crowded inside the station.
Five people remained hospitalized on Sunday in Denver. Two people initially listed in critical condition at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver were upgraded Sunday, one to serious and one to fair, spokeswoman Tonya Ewers said.
Many passengers from the flight arrived in Houston, its original destination, on Sunday afternoon, some clearly injured, the Houston Chronicle reported online Sunday. A young boy was taken off on a stretcher.