LONDON – A small plane carrying a liver for transplant crashed and burst into flames at England's Birmingham Airport Friday. Two crew members were injured, but rescuers managed to salvage the donor organ and rush it to a nearby hospital
West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Matt Markham said the privately owned Cessna made a "hard landing" and caught fire just after 3:30 p.m. (1530GMT, 10:30 a.m. EST).
He said visibility in the area, 120 miles (195 kilometers) north of London, was "appalling" because of thick fog.
An airport spokesman said the plane, flying from Belfast, clipped an antenna as it came in to land.
The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance Service said its helicopter pilot "bravely entered the burning wreckage" to cut the plane's fuel supply and help extract the injured pilot.
It said the 58-year-old pilot was airlifted to a hospital with chest, abdomen and pelvic injuries. He was in serious but stable condition. A second man, in his 30s, was being treated for burns and a back injury.
Markham said the liver was rushed to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital under police escort. Staff there said it had been medically assessed and would be transplanted "shortly."
Birmingham Airport's runway was closed after the accident, with departures canceled and incoming flights diverted to other airports.
The airport said it would remain closed until Saturday morning at the earliest.