A United Airlines flight has scattered debris over a residential area near Denver after its right engine failed. It was heading to Honolulu when it suffered an engine failure soon after takeoff, the airline said.
The Boeing 777-200, with 231 passengers and 10 crew aboard, was able to return safely and land at Denver airport.
There were no reports of injuries, either on the plane or the ground.
Images posted by police in Broomfield, Colorado showed significant debris on the ground, including an engine cowling scattered outside a home and what appeared to be other parts in a field.
Police tape was used to cordon off the debris.
One video taken from what appeared to be inside the United plane showed an engine on fire.
Another video on social media showed a cloud of black smoke being left by a plane.
“Something blew up,” a man on the video can be heard saying.
In an audio recording, a United pilot could be heard making a mayday call to air traffic control at Denver International Airport.
“Mayday, aircraft just experienced engine failure, need to turn immediately,” according to audio from the monitoring website liveatc.net.
One Broomfield resident told CNN he had seen the debris fall from the plane and took shelter with his children as it started coming down.
“We saw it go over, we heard the big explosion, we looked up, there was black smoke in the sky,” Kieran Cain said. “Debris started raining down, which you know, sort of looked like it was floating down and not very heavy, but actually now looking at it, it’s giant metal pieces all over the place.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said it and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB said it had opened an investigation.
“If you find debris PLEASE don’t touch it or move it. The @NTSB wants all debris to remain in place for investigation,” Broomfield police said on Twitter.
The 26-year-old 777 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. Investigators will focus on what caused the accident and will look at whether a fan blade failed.
Boeing said its technical advisers would assist the NTSB with its investigation, while United pledged to “work with federal agencies investigating this incident”.
United said most of the passengers on Flight 328 took off on a new flight to Honululu late Saturday.
Engine failures are rare but are potentially dangerous whenever rotating parts pierce the outer casing – an event known as an uncontained engine failure.