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Passenger killed following Southwest Airlines engine failure

A female passenger has been killed after an engine on a US passenger jet exploded mid-flight.

Seven others needed medical treatment following the incident on board Southwest Airlines Flight 1380.

The plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after a window, the wings and fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 were damaged in the incident.

The plane had been en route from La Guardia airport in New York to Dallas, Texas.

Some 143 passengers and five crew were on board when the incident happened on Tuesday morning.

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It is the first passenger death on a US commercial flight since 2009.

Witnesses to the incident say an engine on the left side of the plane blew, smashing a window and causing cabin depressurisation that nearly sucked a woman out of the aircraft.

She was, however, pulled back by other passengers.

The dead woman was Jennifer Riordan, a mother-of-two and bank vice-president at Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, New Mexico, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The National Transportation Safety Board said they were aware of one fatality in the suspected “engine failure”.

A statement from Southwest Airlines said: “We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is one fatality resulting from this accident.

“The entire Southwest Airlines family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event.

“We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy.”

The low-cost carrier said it is accelerating its existing engine inspection program relating to the CFM56 engine family.

The accelerated inspections are being performed out of “an abundance of caution”, the carrier said, and are expected to be completed over the next 30 days.

The accelerated checks are ultrasonic inspections of fan blades of the CFM56 engines.