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Crews remove damaged jet after hard landing at LaGuardia

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New York's LaGuardia Airport was fully reopened Tuesday after a disabled Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 skidded to a hard landing Monday evening as its front landing gear collapsed, authorities said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said crews with cranes lifted the jet from the runway onto a flatbed truck. Officials said Tuesday morning that the runway had been reopened.

Of the 150 customers and crew on board the flight from Nashville, Tenn., three passengers, the two pilots and three flight attendants were treated and released from the hospital, Southwest Airlines said Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said there was substantial damage to the aircraft and announced an investigation.

"The NTSB is doing what they call a preliminary investigation,” Southwest Vice President Linda Rutherford told NBC 5 of Dallas, where the airline has its headquarters. "That involves a review of the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder."

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Rutherford said investigators were also interviewing the pilots. 

The jet came to a stop Monday on Runway 4 at 5:45 p.m. ET, said Thomas Bosco, the airport's general manager and acting aviation director for the Port Authority. Four others refused treatment, he said.

The airport, which was closed after the accident, was reopened at 7 p.m. ET, Bosco said.

There was still no explanation for why the landing gear malfunctioned. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday night that the pilots "reported possible front landing gear issues before landing," but it gave no further details.

About a dozen emergency vehicles surrounded the Southwest plane, whose passengers evacuated by the rear chute and were taken by bus to the terminal. Bosco said none of the injuries occurred during the evacuation.

"It's a surreal scene here given what just happened in the Bay Area," Sam Brock of NBC Bay Area, who saw the incident from another plane he was on at the airport, told NBC New York in an on-air telephone interview, referring to the crash of Asiana Flight 214 early this month at San Francisco International Airport.

Brock said the pilot of his flight told passengers that there were no serious injuries and no sign of fire or flames on the Southwest plane.

Steve Czech, who was on the runway waiting for his American Airlines flight to take off, told NBC New York that he saw the Southwest plane touch down.

"There was just this fireball going down the runway. It was unbelievable — it was probably 300 yards from us, if that," Czech said.

"Clearly, there was no nose gear," he said. "It was just screeching down the runway, fire on both sides. There was debris kind of rolling off to the sides."

John Blackman and Kip Whitlock of NBC News contributed to this report.

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