New York: An airliner skidded off a runway at New York's La Guardia airport and slid to halt just yards from frigid waters, as a snow storm battered the US coast from Texas to Boston.
Heavy snow was falling as Delta flight 1086 from Atlanta careered off the runway, ploughed up an embankment and demolished a fence after its late afternoon landing yesterday.
New York firefighters said 24 people suffered non life-threatening injuries, including three who were transported from the scene.
Video footage showed passengers climbing out of the plane through an exit over a wing and trudging through thick snow.
The plane's nose jutted through the fence, suspended above the icy East River.
It was the most dramatic incident on a day in which a huge winter storm forced thousands of flight cancellations, and disrupted life across a broad swath of the United States.
In Washington DC, government workers were ordered to stay home, schools were closed, and museums shuttered for the day as icy rain turned to heavy snow.
Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York were expected to get as much as eight inches of snow, with temperatures dipping well below average in much of the region.
Airports braced for travel chaos, with more than 4,300 flights canceled by Thursday afternoon and more cancellations and delays expected.
Forecasters had warned of low visibility in New York, and some 40 percent of flights had been canceled at La Guardia before the accident, according to flightaware.com.
New York Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye did not say what caused the accident, only that the runway was recently cleared.
"That runway had been plowed literally minutes before, and other pilots had reported good breaking action," he told reporters.
Foye said the plane skidded more than 1,372 meters down the runway and that the aircraft's emergency chutes did not deploy after it hit the embankment.
But he assured there was no risk of it coming into contact with the river.
"The plane did not make contact with the water, happily that was never a risk today," he said.
Delta said earlier the 125 passengers and six crew members aboard the McDonnell Douglas MD88 plane had disembarked via aircraft slides and were moved to the terminal on buses.
"Our priority is ensuring our customers and crew members are safe," Delta said in a statement.