updated 1/21/2008 1:18:01 AM ET 2008-01-21T06:18:01

The wreckage of a British Airways jet that made a crash landing at Heathrow airport was being moved off a runway on Sunday, officials said.

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The Boeing 777, which suffered engine failure before landing at Britain's largest airport on Thursday, had remained on the edge of one of the runways while it was examined by crash investigators.

An initial inquiry found all had gone normally with the Beijing to London flight until the aircraft was just two miles from touchdown and at a height of 600 feet.

The plane, with 136 passengers and 16 crew on board, crash landed on grass just inside the airport's perimeter.

Co-pilot John Coward, who landed the aircraft, told a newspaper he worried the plane would fail to reach the airport.

"When I came in to land, I thought 'This is going to be a catastrophic crash,'" Coward was quoted as saying by the Sunday Mirror tabloid. "I didn't think we'd clear the fence at first. As we landed I was bracing myself for an enormous thud."

Passengers and witnesses said the Boeing 777's landing gear ripped away before the plane came to a halt on its belly. Nineteen injuries were reported.

Officials from the Air Accident Investigation Branch will continue to examine the aircraft once it is moved to a nearby hangar.

"The team has already painstakingly lifted the aircraft to prepare it for the move," said Bruce Hunter, British Airways' general manager of operational maintenance. "The next stage of this delicate operation will take several hours to complete as the team works meticulously to make sure the aircraft is moved slowly and safely to its new location."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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