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Passengers From Evacuated Plane In Philly Arrive In South Florida

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Passengers aboard a plane that was forced to abort take off at Philadelphia International Airport were relieved to make it safely to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday morning.

“We didn’t know if we were going to live or if we were going to die,” said passenger Kiomara Ozuna. “It was just horrible.”

US Airways says the nose gear of the Airbus A320 collapsed after the plane blew a tire during departure and the pilot decided to abort take-off.

“The plane actually lifted off and hit the ground twice. In that time I think people’s lives were flashing before their eyes,” said passenger Devon Lassiter. “Everything went in to such a panic. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”

Passengers on Flight 1702, departing from Philadelphia, had to exit the airplane through emergency slides around 6:38 pm Thursday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“On the initial takeoff we came crashing back down to the ground, and started to take off again. There was a second jolt and we hit the very hard this time and we started to basically skid,” said passenger Mark Infante.

There were 154 people on-board the plane; 149 passengers and five crew members.

The plane, according to US Airways, did get off the ground, but the pilot decided to abort and bring the plane back down. The plane’s nose gear reportedly collapsed when it hit the runway but officials are still investigating what went wrong.

“I think they should really look into what happened because the plane was off the ground, we didn’t get a flat tire. It went off the ground, the nose went up, slammed back down, and then went up and down again. That’s what caused it. Smoke started coming into the cockpit, and we had to evacuate out, said passenger Tom Francis. “So I don’t understand aborted takeoff, versus I would say a crash.”

Some passengers managed to capture the terrifying scene when the emergency chutes opened and people started to run from the plane.

“There was lots of screaming and some crying,” said Dennis Fee. “Nobody seemed to be getting out of their seats until we came to a stop and they told us to evacuate.”

See Fee’s Short Video On @CBS4Newsroom’s Instagram By Clicking Here

One by one, passengers escaped via the emergency chute, barely waiting for others to clear the path before sliding down themselves.

One man can be seen helping his fellow passengers quickly get off the slide. Other passengers exited through an opening above the grounded plane’s wing.

“I ran out onto the wing and actually I was yelling for the women and the children first to come off,” said passenger Frank Gabbamonte.

Some people stepped in to help their fellow passengers evacuate.

“It was awesome how everyone came together to help each other, to help children,” said passenger Devon Lassiter. “That compassion was just really limitless and I was really thankful for that because it made things easier for everyone.”

A firefighting crew headed to South Florida from Belgium for St. Patrick’s day also did their best to get people to safety.

“Everybody was scared but we stayed calm for the people,” said Roal Labat. “We are Belgian firefighters so we helped everybody.”

Passengers said crew members also did a good job keeping people calm.

“They were very efficient about getting people off the plane,” said Fee.

Fee said that US Airways didn’t tell them much other than letting them know they’d be re-booked on another flight.

But the airline was active on Twitter, answering questions all evening long.

At one point the airline tweeted, “Initial reports flt 1702 PHL-Fort Lauderdale blew a tire on takeoff & takeoff was aborted. We are taking care of our customers & crew.”

Nobody was seriously hurt, according to the airline. Two people were treated for minor injuries.

The FAA is investigating.

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