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American Airlines plane engine catches fire at O’Hare Airport

CHICAGO-Terrified passengers aboard an American Airlines 767 that aborted takeoff on a runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport scrambled to safety Friday afternoon after huge flames erupted on the right side of the plane.

Seven passengers and one flight attendant were injured and taken to hospitals, American spokeswoman Leslie Scott said. There was no immediate word on their condition.

Scott said 170 people, including 161 passengers, were on board Flight 383 bound for Miami when it aborted takeoff due to an engine-related mechanical issue, the airline said.

A passenger who was sitting in the middle of row 31 said he heard a loud clunk, then saw a large ball of flame that he assumed came from the engine area. Gary Schiavone of DeMotte, Indiana, said the captain was able to stop the airline quickly, and then it was "coordinated chaos."

There wasn't much yelling or screaming, he told reporters, except passengers who shouted at others who were trying to grab their bags from the overhead bins. Schiavone said about 30 seconds into the evacuation, smoke started to pour into the cabin. The difficulty in breathing was the scariest part, he said.

Asked whether he was afraid he was going to die, Schiavone said, "Of course. I'm thinking the plane is going to blow up."

Schiavone complimented the crew for getting everyone out in what he estimated was about a minute.

Video tweeted by a witness on the ground showed an airliner with a large tower of smoke rising from the right side and flames billowing beneath the fuselage. The video showed passengers coming down two of the emergency slides on the 767's left side.

Witnesses saw heavy black smoke and a fireball on the right side of the aircraft.

Josiah Ryan, senior producer for Social TV at CNN, was aboard a flight landing at O'Hare. Shortly after their American Airlines flight landed, their captain told passengers over the loudspeaker, "We're near our gate, but there has been an accident on one of the runways."

Ryan said he saw emergency vehicles rush to the runway.

Three of the airport's runways were closed at mid-afternoon Friday.

A helicopter for CNN affiliate WGN shot live video of the plane sitting in the middle of a runway with a darkened right wing. More than a dozen emergency vehicles surrounded the jet.

It was unclear how the fire started.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

Other Boeing jets have been involved in runway incidents in the 13 months.

A Boeing 777 taxiing for takeoff at Las Vegas International Airport in September 2015 aborted its takeoff roll to London when one of its two engines failed. The following month, passengers aboard a Dynamic Airways 767-200 were forced to evacuate because of a fuel leak that caused a fire while the aircraft was taxiing in Fort Lauderdale. Both incidents are still under investigation by the NTSB.