A commuter airplane with 49 people aboard crashed late Thursday night into a house in a small town in western New York State near the city of Buffalo. Authorities say everyone on-board was killed as well as at least one person on the ground.
The wreckage of Continental Airlines flight 3407 lay smoldering Friday morning in the small town of Clarence Center; only the aircraft's tail remained recognizable.
The plane came down about nine kilometers from Buffalo Niagara International Airport where it was due to land shortly after 10:00 p.m. Thursday evening.
County Executive Chris Collins told a news conference that the plane struck a house in the residential community, nearly destroying it and killing at least one resident.
"We do know that there were 48 on the plane - 44 passengers and four crew. Unfortunately, there was a town resident in one home that perished," he said. "Two individuals were able to escape that home incurring minor injuries."
Collins said first responders immediately evacuated residents from about a dozen other nearby homes.
Federal, state and local authorities are converging on the scene to
begin their investigation. Officials said it is too early to determine
the cause of the crash.
The cockpit black box recorder, which often provides clues to such crashes, has not yet been recovered because the crash site is still too hot from the fuel fire that erupted.
Initial reports said Flight 3407 radioed the control tower that they were having problems. But Collins said that did not appear to be the case.
"To the best of our knowledge it did not [report trouble]," he said. "It was coming in for a landing and the control tower stated that it lost contact with the plane."
The twin-engine prop aircraft was enroute from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo in a light snow and moderate winds when it crashed. County officials would not release the names of the passengers, but said many were from the Buffalo area.
This is the second commercial plane crash in New York state in less than a month. In January, a US Airways passenger flight that had just taken off from a New York City airport crashed in the Hudson River after birds flew into the engines.
The aircraft's captain heroically landed that plane in the river and all the passengers survived.