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Aircraft crashes into NY high-rise

A small plane crashes into a building on Wednesday killing two and prompting US authorities to scramble fighter jets.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2006 13:15 IST
AFP

A small aircraft crashed into a high-rise building in New York City on Wednesday, killing at least two people and prompting US authorities to scramble fighter jets as a precaution, federal officials and media reported.

Flames and a trail of smoke billowed from two floors of a building on the affluent upper east side of Manhattan before firefighters contained the blaze at about 3:30 pm (1930 GMT).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed a small plane hit the building at East 72nd street at about 2:45 pm (1845 GMT).

"They were flying by visual flight rules in that corridor and (the plane) was not in contact with a tower," FAA spokeswoman Diane Sticaliere said.

"It's unknown what kind of aircraft and how many people were on board," she said.

Fox television reported that two people were killed in the crash. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was no indication that the crash was related to terrorism.

But the White House said it was not ruling out any theory for the crash. "We are not in a position to rule anything in or out," said deputy White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "There is no change of the alert level."

The military scrambled fighter jets above US cities as a precaution, said Admiral Tim Keating, commander of the US Northern Command.

Keating would not say how many cities were under air cover but insisted there was no sign of terrorism in the accident.

"Fighters, along with early warning systems, they've been up there for half an hour, 45 minutes," Keating told CNN.

"There are no, repeat, no indications that there is anything underfoot beyond this one airplane or helicopter, whatever, light civil (aircraft) that flew into this apartment building in New York City," he said.

The television images of the burning building evoked memories of the devastating attacks of September 11, 2001 on New York and Washington when hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000.

A woman who lives on the same street, 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."

A witness, Tamer Faltos, told CNN: "We were just down the block at my work. And I just heard this huge, huge crash that makes me just shake."

Emergency helicopters flew overhead as a crowd watched from the streets below. Police closed off traffic to at least a six-block area around the site amid a chaotic scene of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

"There was a boom sound, but we weren't sure what it was, and then they told us to evacuate the bulidng," said Lilian Regolia, who works opposite the building.