National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators offered no immediate explanation as to what caused a Continental Airlines twin-engine jetliner to skid off a Denver International runway Dec. 20, bursting into flames. All 110 passengers and five crewmembers aboard escaped. Flight 1404, a Boeing
737-500 (N18611) bound for Houston, was attempting to take off at 6:18 p.m. when it veered to the left and skidded into a ravine, NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt said. The plane veered off course about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway. The flight data ad cockpit voice recorders were recovered and flown to an NTSB lab for analysis. Safety Board investigators will determine whether one of the engines failed or caught fire. Weather does not appear to be a factor in that conditions at the airport were clear, and the runway was dry at the time of the accident. Passengers told The Associated Press the aircraft's nose raised into the air, then dropped suddenly back down before the aircraft exited the runway, its right wing on fire.