1 dead after Southwest engine fails in midair, forcing emergency landing

WPVI-TV(PHILADELPHIA) -- One person has died after a Southwest plane engine failed in midair on Tuesday, marking the first accidental domestic airline fatality in nine years, said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Flight 1380 was en route from New York City's LaGuardia International Airport to Dallas Love Field when the engine failure forced the plane to make an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport this morning.

Passenger Matt Tranchin said the flight took a turn when he saw a "huge explosion and glass shattering three rows ahead of me."

"Flight attendants rushed up. There was momentary chaos. Everyone kind of descended on where this hole was. As passengers, we weren't sure if they were trying to cover up the hole, but the plane smelled like smoke. There was ash coming through the ventilation system. We started dropping," Tranchin told ABC station WPVI in Philadelphia. "Some of the crew couldn't hold back their horror. And some were crying as they looked out through the open window onto the engine."

Passengers posted photos from inside showing their midair oxygen masks, a blown-out window and the remains of an engine.

Passenger Jim Demetros, who said he was about three rows ahead of where the engine failed, told ABC News everybody was looking at "the woman who was sitting next to window that had blown out."

"It was a pretty harrowing experience," he said, adding that the "crew did fantastic job ... keeping everyone calm."

Seven people were minorly injured but not taken to hospitals, said Thiel. The NTSB said 144 passengers and five crew members were on board.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt described the emergency as engine failure. The crew had reported damage to the main body of the plane, an engine and a window, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

"This is a sad day and on behalf of the entire Southwest family I want to extend my deepest sympathies for the family and the loved ones of our deceased customer," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said. "They are our immediate and primary concern and we will do all that we can to support them during this difficult time and the difficult days ahead.

"The safety of our customers and our crew is always our uncompromising priority," Kelly added. "I do want to thank and commend our flight crew for their swift action and for safely landing this aircraft. I also want to thank all involved in Philadelphia for their quick professional and compassionate response.

"I'm immensely grateful there are no other reports of injuries but truly this is a tragic loss," Kelly said. "Please join us in offering thoughts and prayers and support to all of those affected by today's tragedy."

The runway was closed for over two hours but has since reopened.

The NTSB and the FAA are investigating. Boeing said it is providing technical help to the investigation and Southwest said it is cooperating.

The last accidental domestic airline fatality in 2009, when Colgan 3407 crashed near Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and a person on the ground.

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