Aircraft crashes into a New York building

October 11th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

BBC News

Two people have died after a small aircraft crashed into a high-rise apartment building in New York City’s affluent Upper East Side. The plane was owned by New York Yankees baseball pitcher Cory Lidle. US media reports say he was piloting the plane at the time and died in the crash.

Flames and smoke can be seen coming out of the 50-storey apartment building on Manhattan island.

The FBI says there is no indication that the crash is terrorism-related. A White House spokesman said they were not ruling out any theory. As a precaution, fighter planes are now flying over a number of US cities.

‘Screaming’

The New York Fire Department said the aircraft struck the 20th floor of a building on East 72nd Street and York Avenue – identified as the Belaire, a prestigious residential tower.

Witnesses told the Associated Press news agency the crash caused a loud noise, and burning and falling debris was seen.

Crash triggers ‘terror’
In pictures: New York crash

Emergency workers have rushed to the scene, while firefighters shot streams of water at the flames from the lower floors.

A freelance journalist at the scene, David Cox, added that there were “hundreds” of emergency workers on the ground.

“It’s just next door to a hospital so there’s a large amount of people wearing doctor’s coats and various other nurses gear standing round the street,” he said.

Witness Mark Schaffer saw the crash from a building across the street.

“I looked up when I heard a low flying plane and saw it as it crashed. The rear half of the plane broke off and fell to the ground in flames. Glass sprayed out everywhere and people were screaming,” he told the BBC.

Another eyewitness told the BBC: ”The plane levelled out and then the next thing I knew it disappeared behind the building and was gone.

“I said I can’t believe that this is what I just saw and they kept saying it was a helicopter but it was a plane.”

A woman who lives nearby, Chris Foege, said: “I just stood there in shock, I thought ‘this can’t be happening to us again’. It was like 9/11 all over again,” she told the AFP news agency.

BBC correspondent Guto Harri in Manhattan says there are scenes of chaos on the streets, with fire engines, police cars and ambulances blocking nearby roads.

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