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255 Feared Dead in NY Plane Crash - 2001-11-12

All 255 passengers and crew are feared dead in the crash of an American Airlines jetliner into a residential area of New York City. The cause of the crash is unknown.

The Airbus A-300 went down in the Rockaway residential neighborhood just about two minutes after takeoff from New York's Kennedy airport. The flight was bound for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Coming just two months after the September 11 attacks, the crash caused fears of another hijacking. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani immediately called President Bush to request military fighter air cover for the New York area and the request was granted. Federal authorities also closed New York City airspace and shut down the region's three major airports airports.

Near the scene of the crash Mayor Giuliani told reporters about the initial information he received, "An airplane was taking off for Santo Domingo about 9:13 this morning. During take-off, one observer says he saw an engine come off and the plane hit the ground. The engine hit one place and the plane hit another. The plane hit a number of homes in Rockaway. As you can see, the fire and the flames are tremendous," said the mayor.

As a precautionary measure, New York City officials shut down all bridges and tunnels leading to Manhattan. At the United Nations, where the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders is underway, no one was allowed to enter the building although those already inside were allowed to stay.