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One passenger dead after Southwest plane engine explodes mid-flight

A passenger was killed after an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday.(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

An engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday, leaving an unnamed female passenger dead and seven others injured.

In the early stages of Flight 1380 which left from New York's LaGuardia Airport headed for Dallas, the plane made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport citing an "operational event."

Passengers say that roughly 20 minutes after departure the plane's left engine exploded. Shrapnel from the engine pierced the plane, breaking a window which depressurized the cabin and reportedly caused a woman to be partially sucked out of the plane before other passengers pulled her back into the aircraft.

Matt Tranchin, who was sitting three rows behind the woman, said "The passenger who was sitting right next to the window that exploded was in critical condition, covered in blood."

The woman was then given CPR by other passengers. Philadelphia Fire commissioner Adam Thiel said, "It is our understanding that the passengers on board the aircraft did some pretty amazing things with some unfortunate circumstances."

At the time of the explosion, the plane was at an estimated altitude of 32,500 feet. Trachin said then "The plane dropped immediately. Plane smelled like smoke. Ash was all around us."

Flight 1380's pilot reached out to air traffic control before landing and requested that paramedics meet the plane on arrival to treat the injured passengers. Air traffic control asked the pilot if the plane was on fire; the pilot (who was not immediately identified) said, "No, it's not on fire but part of it's missing. They said there is a hole and someone went out."

Many passengers feared for their lives, and reached out to loved ones as the plane descended. Passenger Marty Martinez posted on Facebook during the chaos, writing: "Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down! Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!! We are bracing for landing!!"

Tranchin told NBC10-TV out of Philadelphia that he spent 15 minutes calling loved ones during the incident. He said, "My wife is in her third trimester. We're expecting our first child. It was one of those things when you don't want to terrify your family, but if you do go down, you don't want to not say goodbye."

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