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Crash chaos grounds travelers

  • Story Highlights
  • More than 200 flights were canceled, says airport operating company BAA
  • Other London-area airports take the strain after crashlanding at Heathrow
  • Passengers warned to contact airline before heading to airports
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(CNN) -- Air travelers were caught in disruptions Thursday as London's Heathrow Airport reeled from a crashlanding on one of its runways.

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The wreckage of the Boeing 777 spread across grass alongside the south runway.

More than 200 flights were canceled -- nearly a fifth of the day's flights, airport operator BAA said.

Air traffic controllers diverted some arriving flights to other airports on a flight by flight basis -- and the ripple effect was felt at airports across the UK.

Passengers expecting to fly out of Heathrow were warned to contact their airline before traveling to the airport, just west of London.

The chaos was caused by a Boeing 777 British Airways flight from Beijing making a crash landing at 12:42 p.m. (7:42 a.m. ET).

For a short while, the southern runway was closed leaving only the northern runway open. Other London-area airports handled extra flights while Heathrow capacity was reduced.

Gatwick, Stansted and Luton all told the UK Press Association they had accepted incoming flights, and used coaches to ferry the passengers to their ultimate destination.

In Scotland, travelers were also warned to check before home if they were flying south.

Donald Morrison, spokesman for BAA Scotland which operates a number of airports in the country, said: "Obviously because Heathrow is such a busy airport there's going to be a knock-on effect on flights and this will affect Scottish passengers.

"There will obviously be a number of passengers who will delayed as the airport plays catch-up.

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The National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which oversees the UK's air space also cut the number of planes touching down at Heathrow.

NATS said aircraft on the in-bound flow was cut from 42 to 24 because of the closure of one lane on the southbound runway. Outgoing flights were less affected as they were able to queue for a take-off slot, but they were still delayed. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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