London's Heathrow Airport is paralysed this afternoon following the crash of a British Airways plane from Beijing. The plane, BA38, hit the ground at 12.42pm.
Ariel television pictures show a gouge in the grass running up to the start of the runway, at least 400 yards before the plane should have landed on the tarmac.
It appears that the undercarriage gave way as the plane careered towards the runway. The aircraft came to rest on its belly, with both engines and wings showing considerable damage.
Although the aircraft is crippled, only three people were injured in the accident, according to official sources.Fernando Pardo, who was on the flight sitting right above the damaged left wing, told BBC radio that there was no indication that there was any problem.
"There was no problem until the very moment we touched down," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "There was no announcement at all from the pilot."
However, another eyewitness on the ground told the radio station that he saw the plane banking hard and very low over houses close to the London airport.
Steve Bail, who saw the plane land from an adjacent motorway, described how the plane hit the ground. The undercarriage almost immediately collapsed, and the aircraft skidded to a halt 90 degrees to the path of the runway, he explained.
Click to view image: '141847-ba_plane_crash_full.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|