A United Express plane carrying 44 passengers has skidded off the runway at the Ottawa International Airport.
Marc Messier of Ottawa's Fire Department says all the passengers travelling from Chicago got off the plane safely and were taken into the terminal on city buses.
After all 44 passengers and 3 crew disembarked safely, the fears turned to spilled jet fuel causing environmental damage or, worse, igniting.
“There was some damage to the undercarriage of the plane,” said Marc Messier, a spokesman for the Ottawa Fire Department. “There was a substantial fuel leak.”
He says fire crews are on the scene working to contain a fuel spill from the damaged undercarriage of the Embraer 145. The plane was completely sitting on a grassy area surrounded by emergency vehicles. The plane appeared to be tipping up with its nose elevated higher than normal.
He said fire crews got the situation under control by capping sewer systems in the vicinity and also “completely submerged” the spilled fuel in foam on to prevent it from igniting. Crews continued to stand by on Sunday evening, where forecasts called for thundershowers and created fears that lightning could ignite the leaked fuel.
But “fuel evaporates very quickly on its own,” Mr. Messier said.
One frightened passenger who tweeted from the plane said people were screaming as the plane skidded and a wing went into the dirt.
The same operator -- Trans State Airlines, also flying under United Express -- had another plane skid off the Ottawa runway in June, 2010, which sent three people to the hospital
"The airline is currently focusing its resources on assisting the passengers who were on board the aircraft," the company said in a statement, adding that Trans States Airlines "cannot speculate as to the cause of the incident."
It's “a fairly rare event” for any airplane in Ottawa to veer off the landing strip, Mr. Messier said. “It's odd that it's the second time we've had the same airline go off the runway.”
With files from the Canadian Press