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Denver Plane Crash Injures 38

Dec 22, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Investigators still don't know why a  Continental Airlines flight skidded off a Denver runway over the weekend.  USA Today is reporting that the accident injured 38 people, but there were no fatalities.

The accident occurred Saturday evening at around 6:18 p.m., when Continental flight 1404 was attempting to take off from Denver International Airport. According to USA Today, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the aircraft had traveled about one third of the length of the runway when it veered to the left and skidded into a ravine.  The runway was free of snow and dry at the time of the crash, airport officials said.

The plane, a Boeing 737-500 bound for Houston, broke apart upon impact and burst into flames. The plane's left engine was ripped away along with all the landing gear, the Associated Press said.  The fuselage was partially buckled and debris was strewn along the runway.  The plane came to rest about 200 yards from one of the airport's four fire stations.

At a news conference Sunday, Patrick Hynes, chief of the airport division of the Denver Fire Department, said that when rescue crews arrived at the scene, they found "all chutes deployed from both sides of the aircraft, people evacuating and walking up the hillside towards them."  

Hynes said the entire right side of the aircraft was in flames and "a heck of a firefight" followed.  Fuel from the aircraft leaked for several hours after the accident, he said.

According to, all 115 people aboard the Continental Airlines survived the crash.  Denver airport officials told CNN that 38 people were taken to area hospitals after the accident.  Most of the injuries were broken bones or bruises. Five are still hospitalized, one in serious condition.  The assistant fire chief assigned to the airport told the Associated Press that it was a "miracle" no one aboard the jet was killed.

According to the Associated Press, the intense fire burned the entire right side of the plane, and caused melted plastic from overhead compartments to drip onto the seats.

NTSB investigators told CNN that they had recovered the plane's data and voice recorders, which were sent to Washington, DC for review.  Investigators will interview crew members, review crew training and evaluate several factors, including the weather at the time of the crash and structure of the plane, CNN said.

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