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Seven killed in Ecuador military plane crash

world Updated: Mar 20, 2009 13:41 IST
Seven killed in Ecuador military plane crash

An Ecuadoran military plane on a training exercise crashed into an apartment building in northern Quito, killing seven people including civilians and soldiers, authorities said.

The crash of the Beechcraft propeller plane killed a major, a captain and a sergeant, as well two civilians on board the aircraft and two people on the ground, officials said.

Two people were injured in the crash, which set the five-story building ablaze and prompted a major search and rescue operation by firefighters, who took more than an hour to extinguish the inferno.

The plane crashed near a luxury hotel in Quito as it approached the capital city's airport, Red Cross spokesman Johnny Franco told AFP.

Defense Minister Javier Ponce described the accident as "regrettable."

"The plane had been in very good condition and was making a training flight," he said.

A thick cloud of dark smoke from the fire rose over the city, parts of which had been enshrouded in fog at the time of the crash.

The area has been the scene of at least four plane mishaps in recent years, including in 1992 when a military plane slammed into a building, killing the then-commander of the army Carlomagno Andrade.