An air investigation is underway after residents of an Italian town reported “hundreds of pieces” of debris from a Boeing 787 “raining from the sky”, causing extensive damage and injuring at least one person.
The pebble-size fragments landed on cars and roofs in the vicinity of Rome’s Fiumicino airport when they fell from the Norwegian airline’s plane after its takeoff on Saturday.
Most of the pieces fell around the area of Isola Sacra and littered people’s gardens, much to their amazement.
One witness told Italian newspaper, Il Messaggero: “They were like bullets. My shirt was on fire!”
And another said: “It looked like a strong hailstorm but it was sunny. I went out on the balcony and saw it was a storm of steel and iron. I screamed and ran into the house.”
According to municipal sources, 25 cars and 12 homes were damaged.
One 54-year-old man was hit by a splinter but was not badly hurt. He said he felt “lucky to be alive”.
Worried residents came out on to the streets to pick up the pieces, mostly measuring ten to 20 centimetres.
Some of the fragments rained down on parked cars, smashing windows because of the violent impact.
Mayor Esterino Montino confirmed the incident on his Facebook page and called for urgent action to avoid further danger.
He wrote: “Around 4.40 pm on Saturday, an aircraft taking off from the Leonardo da Vinci airport suffered a breakdown and had to return. During the breakdown, however, it lost metal pieces that fell at great speed to the ground, at Via Mariotti in Isola Sacra.
“When falling, these fragments hit parked cars, garden sheds and other objects, damaging them. Local police, state police, the Carabinieri police, fire brigade and civil protection officers went to the site.”
The Mayor continued: “What happened confirms the issue of security that we have raised on several occasions in the appropriate forums. As an administration we have repeatedly raised the problem of the compatibility of the first runway with the city.”
Residents said they back the Mayor’s views and are scared of a potentially fatal accident.
One resident told the Italian media: “I always said a plane or part of it will one day land up inside the house!”
A spokeswoman for Norwegian airlines told Euronews that a flight from Rome to Los Angeles had to go back to Fiumicino airport “due to indications of a technical failure of one of the engines”.
She added that the aircraft landed safely.