- Associated Press - Friday, October 29, 2010

MIAMI (AP) — A 1-foot-by-2-foot hole was found in the fuselage of a commercial airliner that suddenly lost cabin pressure shortly after taking off from Miami, authorities said.

Passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 1640 were hysterical when the Boston-bound flight lost cabin pressure Tuesday night, a passenger said.

“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 told Miami television station WSVN.

Oxygen masks were deployed, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

The Boeing 757 carrying 154 passengers and six crew members.

Ms. Bergen said an inspection of the plane revealed a hole in the upper part of the fuselage near a cabin door toward the front of the plane.

“The crew declared an emergency and made a normal landing,” airline spokesman Tim Smith said. He said there were no injuries.

Mr. Smith said the airline has assigned a team of engineers and maintenance technicians to look at the aircraft. He said American has talked to Boeing, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.

The plane has been taken out of service, he said.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency doesn’t yet know what caused the hole.

“We’ll be looking at [metal] fatigue and mechanical issues and everything,” he said.

AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

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