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Crash passenger: We just dropped

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  • Witnesses, passengers tell of dramatic end to London-Beijing flight
  • Passenger: The wheels came out... and the next moment we just dropped
  • Witness: Pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight
  • British Airways says 136 and 16 crew members on board; six injured
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Passengers on board a British Airways jet which crash landed at London's Heathrow's Airport have been telling how the plane suddenly dropped approaching the runway.

One witness said the plane had lost power while another said it flew in much lower than a normal landing before touching down several hundred meters short of the airport's south runway.

The undercarriage, left wing and left engine of the aircraft were severely damaged, as if it had skidded across the ground. At least one of the plane's wheels had been torn off.

British Airways said six people suffered minor injuries. I-Reporter Alex Quinonez saw one person being stretchered through the airport's terminal one. A security guard told him initially that "a plane had landed short and hit the grass."

Investigators will probe what caused the accident but the British Broadcasting Corporation, quoting an unnamed airport worker who had spoken to the pilot, reported the plane lost all power. "He just glided it in and lifted the nose up and managed to get it down," the worker said.

Passenger Paul Venter told the UK Press Association: "The wheels came out and went for touchdown, and the next moment we just dropped. I couldn't tell you how far.

"I didn't speak to the pilot, but I saw him, and he looked very pale, but there was no communication in the cabin."

Another passenger Jason Johnson, interviewed by Sky News, said: "We came in very, very fast. It's something I've never been in before. Once it landed, it spun 90 degrees. I felt like I was in a washing machine.

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"The plane then came to a complete halt. We were told by the hostesses 'Please evacuate, follow our guidance.'"

"I was worried about the fuel, bursting into flames, the wings were making cracking sounds, the sound was very, very loud."

Eyewitness Neil Jones said the plane had made a "very, very unusual approach" to the airport and sounded louder than usual, PA reported.

"The aircraft was banking to the left and it was coming in very low over the surrounding houses," Jones said. "The plane was significantly lower than it would normally be.

"You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. I think he did a great job." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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