Panic as plane debris falls ‘like bullets’
PEOPLE screamed and ran for cover after plane debris "rained like bullets" on their homes near Rome's main airport.
An air investigation is underway after bits of a Boeing 787 fell out of the sky, causing extensive damage and injuring at least one person, The Sun reported.
The pebble-size fragments damaged cars and roofs in the vicinity of Rome's Fiumicino International Airport when they fell from the Norwegian Air plane after takeoff on Saturday.
Most of the pieces fell around the area of Isola Sacra and littered people's gardens as the jet headed from Rome to Los Angeles.
"They were like bullets. My shirt was on fire!" one witness told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
And another said: "It looked like a strong hailstorm but it was sunny. I went out on the balcony and saw it was a storm of steel and iron. I screamed and ran into the house."
According to municipal sources, 25 cars and 12 homes were damaged. One 54-year-old man was hit by a splinter but was not badly hurt. He said he felt "lucky to be alive".
Worried residents came out on to the streets to pick up the pieces, mostly measuring ten to 20 centimetres.
Some of the fragments rained down on parked cars, smashing windows because of the violent impact.
Mayor Esterino Montino confirmed the incident on his Facebook page and called for urgent action to avoid further danger.
"Around 4.40pm on Saturday, an aircraft taking off from the (Rome-Fiumicino) Leonardo da Vinci airport suffered a breakdown and had to return," he wrote.
"During the breakdown, however, it lost metal pieces that fell at great speed to the ground, at Via Mariotti in Isola Sacra.
"When falling, these fragments hit parked cars, garden sheds and other objects, damaging them."
He said local and state police, fire crews and civil protection officers were sent to the site.
"What happened confirms the issue of security that we have raised on several occasions in the appropriate forums," he continued.
"As an administration we have repeatedly raised the problem of the compatibility of the first runway with the city.
"For this we had also reached an agreement with ADR (Aeroporti de Roma, the operator of Rome-Fiumicino airport) so that the track would not be used at night and early in the morning. Instead this agreement is disregarded.
"Moreover, now Isola Sacra and Fregene result in the takeoff trajectory of the planes that pass, thus, very close to the houses with the risks that today's events demonstrate."
The mayor said the city had requested an urgent meeting with Aeroporti de Roma and other relevant groups to "address and resolve the issue and secure homes and people".
Residents say they back the mayor's views and are scared of a potentially fatal accident.
"I always said a plane or part of it will one day land up inside the house," one person told Italian media.
A spokeswoman for Norwegian Air told Euronews that a flight from Rome to Los Angeles had to go back to Rome-Fiumicino airport "due to indications of a technical failure of one of the engines". She said the aircraft landed safely.