Hole Appears in Plane at 31,000 Feet

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Officials are investigating why a two-foot hole opened up in the fuselage of an American Airlines flight headed to Boston.

The plane lost cabin pressure about a half hour after takeoff from Miami International Airport, federal authorities say. Oxygen bags dropped and passengers on Flight 1640 say they were terrified.

"All of a sudden it was just this decline in the plane. It was descending really fast, really loud. Lights were going on and off. Noises were going on and off. People were hysterical around us. They were crying," Edward Croce tells Miami television station WSVN.

The Boeing 757-200, carrying 154 passengers and six crew members, returned to Miami. No injuries were reported.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman says the hole was found near a cabin door towards the front of the plane.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith tells The Associated Press the crew declared an emergency and made a normal landing.

The plane was taken out of service. A team of American engineers and maintenance technicians was looking at the aircraft trying to figure out what happened, and was conferring with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Boeing, Smith says.

An NTSB spokesman says among the areas that will be studied is metal fatigue.

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