A Delta Air Lines plane has skidded off the runway at LaGuardia airport in New York City, as a major winter storm bears down on a large part of the US.
Emergency officials helped 127 passengers and five crew off the plane just after 11:00 local time, but no one was seriously injured.
Snow and freezing rain has been falling from Texas to New England over the past several hours.
Schools, businesses, and the US government have closed as a result.
Pictures from LaGuardia airport show the plane, a Delta MD-88, resting on an embankment having pushed through a fence.
“That runway had been ploughed literally minutes before, and other pilots had reported good braking action,” New York and New Jersey Port Authority Director Patrick Foye told reporters.
The flight, Delta 1086, was attempting to land at LaGuardia after flying from Atlanta. It veered to the left shortly after making contact with the runway, but avoided crashing into nearby Flushing Bay.
Two passengers were transported to a hospital, but no serious injuries have been reported.
At one point the plane was leaking fuel, but emergency responders were able to stop the leak.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been dispatched to the scene, Patrick Foye said.
The airport has been closed, and is expected to reopen at 19:00 local time, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says. Planes en route to the LaGuardia have been diverted to nearby airports.
LaGuardia is one of the most difficult airports to land at in the US owing to its close proximity to three other busy airports.
- in Kentucky, motorists have slept overnight in their cars after getting stuck on two highways
- schools, businesses and local governments across the Northeast and South have closed
- in Washington, the US government told non-emergency staff to stay home
- about 82,000 businesses and homes lost power in the state of West Virginia
- over 4,000 flights have been cancelled
The snow is expected to largely skip Boston, which needs just two more inches of snow to break a record set during the 1995-1996 season.
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Airplane food has long been the butt of jokes for being bland, unimaginative and generally unappetizing, but now there is evidence to suggest that the meals served by airlines are not just lackluster, but they might actually make passengers sick.
Inspections of airlines and outside caterers conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have revealed facilities crawling with mice, roaches and ants, and food preparation areas swarming with flies.
According FDA health violation records obtained by ABC’s 20/20, over the past four years, there have been more than 1,500 violations in the airline food industry. The federal agency said that “significant” problems were found at a much higher rate than in other industry it inspects.
The FDA reported evidence of mice on Delta Airlines planes. In response, the carrier released a statement calling the findings an “isolated incident’. The statement goes on to say that the inspections, some of them dating back to 2009, were conducted in lavatory service trucks and aircraft potable water, and the problems uncovered by the agency have since been addressed.
Insects were also found inside the facilities of the industry giant LSG Sky Chefs which provides food for several airlines. According to the FDA records, inspectors have observed ants crawling over discarded food, flies both dead and alive, and roaches through the company’s food preparation facilities.
The company issued a statement saying that after being issued a warning letter by the FDA regarding food safety violations, LSG immediately addressed the problems to ensure complete compliance.
The catering service added that “food safety and quality are out number one priority”.
Inspections of airlines and outside caterers conducted by the FDA have revealed facilities crawling with mice, roaches and ants, and food preparation areas swarming with flies
Another company cited in the FDA records is airline food provider Gate Gourmet, whose facilities were said to be crawling with gnats “too numerous to count”, as well as roaches.
Besides critters in food facilities, FDA reports indicate that at several companies inspectors found other gross violations such as filthy cooking areas, old and moldy products and employees not washing their hands. For example, at the Gate Gourmet facilities, food was left outside refrigerators and utensils were stacked on dirty racks.
This is not the first time that airplane food safety concerns have been raised in the media.
In 2010, USA Today obtained FDA records painting a similarly unsettling picture: food being stored at improper temperatures, dirty equipment and signs of improper pest control in the shape of cockroaches, flies and mice.
Catering companies like LSG and others told ABC that they take food sanitation very seriously and make sure to address problems at once. They also said that they serve tens of millions of meals a year both at home and abroad without incident.
Passengers who spend several hundred dollars extra to fly first or business class in hopes of getting not only better plane accommodations, but also a superior meal, may find themselves disappointed.
According to Roy Costa, a food-industry consultant and former health inspector, a filet mignon presented on a china platter may suffer from the same problems as the grey mystery meat patty served on a plastic trey in coach.
“Fancy food isn’t safe food. The bacteria really don’t care,” he told 20/20.
Some of us wonder what happens to the luggage once it has been handed over at the check-in desk and disappears through the rubber flaps. The mystery has been cleared up after Delta Airlines added hidden cameras to a suitcase to see exactly what happens behind the scenes.
Delta Air Lines fitted six high-quality cameras inside the case and cut holes in the material so that the camera lenses could see out.
The cameras record the time before departure, every moment on the two hour flight from Atlanta to New York, and the bag going into the arrivals lounge.
The promotional footage for Delta Mobile Baggage Tracking App was uploaded to YouTube on December 22 and within days had already been viewed by more than 135,000 people.
However, users were quick to point out that the video does not show any of the bad things happening to the luggage such as damage, missing items and lost cases.
“When a checked bag goes behind those rubber flaps where does it go,” subtitles begin on the video. “Let’s find out.”
The video begins with the bag going from the check-in desk through the rubber flaps and along a conveyor belt.
The cameras record the time before departure, every moment on the two hour flight from Atlanta to New York, and the bag going into the arrivals lounge
A winding journey through more channels of conveyor belts takes the suitcase into a large warehouse where it is scanned.
“TSA scan area. No photography allowed,” appears on screen to explain why x-rays and manual checks for drugs, weapons and explosives are not seen.
The luggage then resumes its journey through the warehouse before it is collected by workers in fluorescent jackets. They then toss the luggage onto a wagon which taxis it to a plane where it is packed into the storage unit.
Two hours later the baggage emerges unscathed and after a short journey pops through the rubber flap and onto the conveyor belt where travelers wait anxiously to spot their cases.
“So finally I know how many hands touch my bags,” one user wrote online.
Another added: “I knew it was too good to be true… as if each bag gets its own special treatment off the plane with five people off loading.”
One user pointed how smooth the journey was. “I wonder what would have happened if the baggage handlers didn’t know they were being filmed,” he said.
Another user added: “Forgot the part where TSA rips open your bag, breaks a few things, and half zips it up.”