Friday, February 13, 2009

At least 49 people were killed when a commuter plane on flight from Newark to Buffalo crashed into a house in light snow today, about 6 kilometers from Buffalo airport, sending up huge plumes of smoke.

The dead included 44 passengers, four crew and one person on the ground.

County Executive Chris Collins was quoted by Buffalo News as saying that the crew of the plane had reported mechanical trouble as it approached the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Trooper John Manthey with the New York State Police said the plane went down into a house in the hamlet of Clarence Center and local officials said 12 homes were evacuated around the site of the crash as firemen sought to control the blaze.

The 50-seater plane was said to be a Dash 8, a two-engine turboprop, and was operated by Colgan Airways, as a feeder airline for Continental.

Collins said the plane, Continental Airlines Fight Airlines Flight 3407, crashed five minutes before it was due to land. The house it crashed into was still fully engulfed in flames but it was not clear whether anyone was in the house.

A joint investigation was being done by the state police, the Erie County Sheriff's Office and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

The last fatal crash involving a scheduled carrier in the United States was a ComAir regional jet in August 2006.

The crew picked a too-short runway for takeoff; 47 passengers and 2 of the 3 crew members were killed, the New York Times said.

In an incident widely described as "miracle on Hudson," a New York jetliner with failed engines and 155 people on board managed to land on the frigid Hudson river in January this year. All passengers and crew members were rescued in the incident.

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