After an aircraft skidded off the runway and crashed into a fence at LaGuardia Airport in New York City on Thursday morning, the normally bustling transit hub was eerily quiet as snow continued to fall in a dense, wet cloud. No serious injuries were reported.
The airport shut down all of its runways immediately after the skid, and the flashing lights of emergency vehicles shone intermittently through the wintry scene. The New York City Fire Department reported that there were a total of 28 patients, and five were transported to the hospital. The noticeably poor weather conditions and alerts sent in advance from airlines likely kept many from arriving at LaGuardia. Inside, the departures board was dotted with red flight cancellation notices as some continued to mill about the mostly quiet terminals.
"As soon as we landed, we started skidding. We bounced up. And the pilot threw on the breaks and that's when we started skidding even faster, veering to the left and across the runaway. We probably went about 300 yards, hit the fence and kept going," Marques E. Zak, a passenger on the flight who is a senior finance manager at PepsiCo., told NBC News. "People were actually really calm, surprisingly. No screams. They were holding tight to their seats." He added that he was glad his flight wasn't canceled.
There were 127 passengers and five crew members aboard the flight, a Port Authority spokesperson said on Thursday afternoon. Flights were being diverted to Newark but plans were in place to open a different runway at LaGuardia at 2 p.m. EST. There was fuel leak from one of the wings, Delta said in a statement, adding that there were no additional details about that at the time.
Another passenger on the flight, Ishmael Latif, was sitting next to the window when the plane approached the runway. He recalled thinking, "Get ready to swim," he said, adding that he was grateful that everyone was safe.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that there were no serious injuries reported and acknowledged the skid in a statement. Officials referred questions about passengers to the airline and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating.
Photos posted to Twitter and other social media showed the tail of the plane dipping into the snow; the nose was pointed upward and appeared to be damaged. Other photos showed the front of the plane smashed through the fence as passengers climbed out onto a wing and trudged through snow to safety. Video posted to Instagram from Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who said that he had been on the flight, shows orderly exits as passengers respond to directions from officials in orange reflective vests.
In a statement, Delta said all customers deplaned safely and were transported to the terminal.
"Our priority is ensuring our customers and crew members are safe," the airline said. "Delta will work with all authorities and stakeholders to look into what happened in this incident."
Less than 3 inches of snow had fallen in New York at the time of the accident, but whipping winds, sleet and snowflakes combined to hamper visibility and make paved surfaces slippery.
Pei-Sze Cheng and Jonathan Dienst contributed reporting to this article.