Commercial plane crashes into N.Y. hamlet, killing 49

11:01, 13 February 2009
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The plane carried 44...

A Continental Express flight from Newark to Buffalo crashed into a house about 4 to 6 miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport last night, killing 49 people, officials said, according to Boston Globe.

The plane carried 44 passengers and a crew of four, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. State police early this morning said all 48 people aboard Flight 3407 were dead, according to the Associated Press. The Erie County executive, Chris Collins, said one person on the ground was also killed.

Collins said the turbo-prop plane crashed about 10:20, five minutes before it was due to land. The house it crashed into was still engulfed in flames at 12:30 a.m., and Collins said that about 12 houses were evacuated.

Trooper John Manthey of the New York State Police said the plane went down in the hamlet of Clarence Center.

"It was just like a huge great big crash, a boom," said Sandra Baker, who lives two blocks from the crash site.

"There was this banging sound" before the crash, she said. Then she said there was a boom, then a dark cloud and flames and the acrid smell of fuel and fire through the air.

Another woman who lives farther from the scene described the sound before the crash as "a loud roar over my house."

"It was like the whole house shook," said the woman, Jennifer Clark, who also lives on Railroad Street. "Then there was silence."

Clark said she looked out of her window and saw a ball of flames rising into the sky.

Baker described Clarence as "small-town USA," a place that will reel from what she was sure would be the biggest tragedy it has ever seen.

The plane went down in light snow, said Ted Lopatkiewicz, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

A joint investigation was being conducted by the State Police, the Erie County Sheriff`s Office, and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. A safety board team of investigators will arrive in Buffalo this morning.

The plane was a De Havilland DHC-8-400, a 74-seat twin-engine turboprop operated by Colgan Airways, a feeder airline for Continental. Colgan also flies as a feeder for US Airways and United Airlines. The airline operates 51 turbo-props.

The last fatal crash involving a scheduled carrier in the United States was a ComAir regional jet in Lexington, Ky., in August 2006. The runway the crew chose was too short for takeoff; 47 passengers and two of the three crewmembers were killed.

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