Flight struck by lightning makes emergency landing at JFK

New York: Nearly 60 people on board an American Airlines flight had a terrifying experience when a lightning struck the plane over New York city, forcing the pilot to divert the aircraft and make an emergency landing at John F Kennedy International Airport.

Officials said American Airlines Flight 4233 from Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina was hit by lightning around 6 pm yesterday as the plane was circling New York City.

As the plane approached New York, it hit turbulent skies. The lightning strike forced the Embraer E170 plane with 55 passengers and four crew members to land at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport, about 10 miles away from LaGuardia Airport. None was hurt, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"There was a very bright burst of blue and a tremendous bang, like the plane had been hit by something," said Rebecca Seger of Yorktown. Seger snapped photos of the gloomy skies from inside the plane, and moments later, she said she saw and felt the flash of lightning. There was a moment of silence as shock spread across the cabin, and then the pilot came on the public announcement system, she said.

"He just told us the plane had been hit by lightning but the pilot said everything was OK," said Seger.

"Then he came on about five minutes later and told us they didn't know if they could get us into LaGuardia because there was too much traffic and thunderstorms near it, obviously, and that we might go to JFK."

The plane was redirected to Kennedy Airport, where fire trucks awaited its landing. Emergency responders lined the tarmac to examine the plane.

"Cops and more fire trucks came and examined the plane for like 20 minutes before we were able to move to the terminal," said Seger.

Seger, a business traveler who flies more than 100 flights a year, said she has never experienced such situation before.

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