February 24, 1999 12:00 AM

An American Airlines flight with 145 people aboard skidded off a rain-soaked runway in Little Rock, Ark., last night and burst into flames. An unknown number of people were killed, and there were at least 80 injuries, say reports. Flight 1420, a Super MD-80 coming from Dallas, had 139 passengers and six crew members aboard and was due to arrive at 9:41 p.m., the airline said. But it was delayed for more than two hours and arrived just as a storm was hitting Little Rock with lightning, hail and strong winds. Passengers described a scene of terror, with the jetliner splitting into pieces and bursting into flames after it slid to the edge of the Arkansas River. Some passengers squeezed one by one through an emergency exit the fire spread toward the back of the plane.

  • American Airlines has set up a hotline offering passenger information: 1-800-245-0999.

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