Woman dies after being partially sucked out of US plane window

Jennifer Riordan was a vice president at Wells Fargo

Woman dies after being partially sucked out of US plane window

Image: Facebook/Jennifer Riordan

A woman has died after being partially sucked out of a plane window when one of its engines blew up in mid-air.

Mother-of-two Jennifer Riordan was a vice president of community relations for Wells Fargo bank and had been on a business trip.

She was hit by shrapnel after the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 blew an engine at 32,000ft during its journey from New York to Dallas.

Parts of the engine smashed the window next to Mrs Riordan and she was sucked out of the plane, as fellow passengers fought to drag her back inside.

Passenger Alfred Tumlinson said a man in a cowboy hat had rushed forward a few rows "to grab that lady to pull her back in".

He added that the passenger "couldn't do it by himself, so another gentleman came over and helped to get her back in the plane, and they got her".

Another passenger had said that, from her waist up, Mrs Riordan was out of the plane.

The passengers were praised for their efforts to save Mrs Riordan, giving her CPR after they managed to pull her back in and plug the hole in the window.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the passengers had done "some pretty amazing things under some pretty difficult circumstances".

A Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing | Image: David Maialetti/AP/Press Association Images

Mrs Riordan had been seriously injured, however, and died later. Seven other people suffered minor injuries.

She is the first passenger to die in an accident involving a US airline since 2009.

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesday as passengers put on oxygen masks and braced for impact.

They praised one of the pilots Tammie Jo Shults who had shown "nerves of steel" during the ordeal.

Mr Tumlinson said she had walked down the aisle after the landing, making sure passengers were alright.

He added: "She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her.

"I'm going to send her a Christmas card, I'm going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground.

"She was awesome."

Passengers were later seen walking off the plane and on to the tarmac with firefighters attending the left engine of the Southwest Airlines plane.

Some tweeted that they were en route from New York City to Dallas when something went wrong with the plane, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing.

Tracking information from flightaware.com showed the plane making an abrupt turn towards Philadelphia after heading west over the south of New York.

Another passenger said in a Facebook post that a window was damaged after a problem with the aircraft's left engine.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Southwest Airlines said there were 143 passengers on board, along with five crew members.

"We are in the process of gathering more information. Safety is always our top priority at Southwest Airlines, and we are working diligently to support our customers and crews at this time," it said.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said the airline was 'deeply saddened':

The plane involved was inspected on Sunday, Mr Kelly told media, adding that the incident was the first in Southwest's 51-year history.

The US National Transportation Safety Board said the engine showed evidence of "metal fatigue" and one of its fan blades was separated and missing.

The airline is speeding up inspections of similar engines.