Miami: At least 21 people were injured after a Boeing 737 charter jet arriving at a naval air station in Florida from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, slid off the runway into a river, authorities said.
All of the 136 passengers and seven crew members had been rescued by early Saturday morning, a Navy spokeswoman said. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said the plane had never been submerged. Photos showed it floating on the St. Johns River, The New York Times reported.
The accident occurred at about 9.40 p.m. on Friday as the pilot attempted to land the jet at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville amid thunder and heavy rains.
“I think it is a miracle,” Capt. Michael P. Connor, the commanding officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, said at a news conference early Saturday. “We could be talking about a different story.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the White House had called to offer its assistance.
The flight was operated by Miami Air International, a charter company that shuttles military service members from the base in Guantanamo Bay to naval air stations in Jacksonville and Norfolk, Virginia.
The flights run every Friday and every other Tuesday, said Susan Brink, a Navy spokeswoman.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to start an inquiry. Boeing said it also was investigating, but did not provide any other details.
Friday night’s accident comes as Boeing has been under intense scrutiny following two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX jet within months of each other: Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March of this year.
The two accidents killed a total of 346 people and led to a global grounding of the aircraft.