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Ryanair jet slides off icy runway

A passenger jet with 129 people on board skidded off an airport runway today after hitting a patch of ice.

The Ryanair plane came to a halt on grass, just 30 yards from Glasgow Prestwick airport's perimeter fence and the A79 dual carriageway.

Relieved passengers praised the pilot for managing to avert a major accident.

No one was injured but the runway had to be closed while engineers recovered the stricken plane from the field.

The drama happened shortly after 9am as the Dublin flight headed towards the terminal building in freezing temperatures.

After skidding on the ice, the plane slid into a field, its wheels ploughing into the snow-covered ground, churning up mud and grass.

Shaken passengers were able to get off the plane using the normal exits and were taken to the terminal building by bus.

Passenger Philip O'Reilly, 50, from Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, described how the drama unfolded.

"We landed on the Tarmac, the plane was moving very fast, and I realised it wasn't going to stop in time.

"The pilot, as far as I know, reversed the thrusters and either steered off the runway or accidentally came off, I don't know which.

"All I can say is it was very skilful. He did a great job."

Mr O'Reilly, who was flying to Scotland to visit relatives in Aberdeen, went on: "It was very exciting. Nobody was hurt, so everybody was happy.

"We realised straight away what had happened. It just came to a sudden stop and the front wheels plunged into the grass verge.

"It's going to take a long time to move that plane, that's for sure."

Another passenger on the plane, Alex Paton, told the BBC: "Everyone was pretty shocked. It wasn't until we were off that we realised how deep the wheels had gone into the field. Don't get me wrong, it didn't go into the field that long before it stopped.

"It was almost like the back end of the plane slid out a bit.

"I think the original plan was to pull the plane out of the field but, when you see it, there's no way you're pulling that plane out easily."

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: "It happened just after 9am as it landed. It slipped on to the grass. No one was injured and all the passengers have been taken to the terminal."

An airport spokesman said the runway had reopened after 11am and all flights were resumed.

He said: "After it landed the plane hit a patch of ice after completing its landing."

The aircraft was not damaged and all passengers were taken off the plane unharmed, he said.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue were at the scene as a precaution.

Ryanair said the plane involved was a Boeing 737-800 from Dublin and had 123 passengers and six crew on board.

The airline said: "After a normal landing was completed and while taxiing from the runway the aircraft encountered ice and slid just off the runway on to the grass verge. Passengers disembarked normally and were bussed to the terminal.

The statement added: "Ryanair apologises for any disruption suffered by passengers as a result of this incident."