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US Airways jet lands with cracked windshield after hailstorm

PHILADELPHIA - A US Airways jetliner flew through a hailstorm on its descent into Philadelphia on Thursday and landed with a cracked windshield, the airline said.

Only one layer of the multilayered windshield was cracked and Flight 768 en route from Orlando, Fla., landed safely, airline officials said. No one was injured.

The flight landed as hail — some reportedly the size of tennis balls — was falling across parts of eastern Pennsylvania, cracking car windshields, breaking windows and damaging siding.

The airline said the windshield damage was possibly caused by the hail but an investigation is incomplete. The Airbus 320 is out of service while being inspected for other possible damage.

US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said the pilot declared an emergency as a precaution to assure "expeditious routing" into Philadelphia International Airport.

Emergency management officials in Berks and Montour counties said they had received a flood of calls about damage, but received no reports of serious injuries.

National Weather Service meteorologist Elyse Colbert said trained spotters had reported hail up to the size of tennis balls in Danville, about 160 kilometres northwest of Philadelphia in Montour County.

Walt Peters, Montour County's emergency management co-ordinator, said the hail was probably a quarter-inch on average. The bigger pieces were easily golf-ball sized, he said.

Hail bigger than a quarter also pelted the Reading and Allentown areas.

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