The Slatest

Pets Presumed Dead in Boeing 737 That Bounced off Runway in Florida

The plane resting on the water, lit by red emergency lights.
The Boeing 737 aircraft in the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 3. U.S. Navy/Getty Images

All pets stored in the cargo hold of a Boeing 737 are thought to be dead after the military-chartered plane crash-landed on a runway in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday night and skidded into a river, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy in Jacksonville. All 143 people on board the plane survived and sustained no life-threatening injuries.

The jet, which had departed from Guantanamo Bay and was operated by charter airline Miami Air International, crashed at 9:40 p.m. after passing through thunderstorms, according to CNN. It’s unknown if the weather had anything to do with the rough landing. Passengers told reporters that after a hard landing on the runway, the plane bounced, swerved, and then crashed into the water in the middle of a storm.

The passengers on board were a collection of active-duty military members, their family members, and government employees. Many were traveling home to see their families.

Passengers took to the wings of the plane to await rescue, and firefighters helped ferry them to safety with rafts. Twenty-one of the people on board were sent to the hospital for minor injuries.

A commanding officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville said at a press conference that the landing and the survival of all the passengers and crew amounted to a “miracle.”

“We could be talking about a different story this evening,” he said.

The jet did not fully sink into the water, as it came to a stop in a shallow portion of the river, but the bottom of it—including the cargo hold, where the pets were held—was submerged. It’s not yet known how many pets were on the flight, but there were at least four.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash landing. As a result, the jet has been left untouched on the site, and passengers have not yet been able to retrieve their luggage.

Authorities have not yet said what caused the plane to end up in the river.