Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Small Plane Hits New York High Rise

Breaking news from Fox:

NEW YORK — A small aircraft crashed into a high-rise building on Manhattan's Upper East Side Wednesday,

Local news reports quoted New York Fire Department officials as saying two people were confirmed dead. The FDNY confirmed FOX News that there are people trapped inside the building on floors above where the fire is located.

Officials said there is no indication the incident was a result of terrorism. There were dozens of firefighters, emergency workers and other first responders on the scene.

The crash set off a raging fire that sent a pillar of gray smoke over the city, police said. Witnesses reported seeing a gigantic fireball come out of the building, police said.

Flames could be seen shooting from windows on two upper floors of the 50-story building, near the East River. Burning debris fell from the tower, and a column of gray smoke rose over the city.

"There's huge pieces of debris falling," said one witness who refused to give her full name. "There's so much falling now, I've got to get away."

Fire Department spokeswoman Emily Rahimi said the aircraft struck the 20th floor of the building, located at 524 East 72nd Street.

The Federal Aviation Administration is handling reaction to the incident. FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere that it was a small, fixed-wing aircraft that was involved, but there was very little other information collected so far. A helicopter would be expected in that area of the city; no other aircraft should be around that part of Manhattan, the FAA said.

"Everyone was running down the street, kids were screaming and crying," Rich Behar, a New York City resident and former Time magazine reporter, told FOX News. "There was a lot of horror and terror when it hit," Behar added, saying the whole ordeal reminded him of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

As of 3:25 p.m. ET, the incident had not affected flights coming in or out of the New York area.

The building is a 50-story condominium tower built in 1986 and located nearby Sotheby's Auction House. It has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.

A spokesman for the National Transportation Security Board said that agency is organizing a team to send to New York to investigate the crash.

Student pilot? Suicide? 9/11 copycat? We’ll have to wait till we get more information. Definitely deja vu.

UPDATE: Further reports indicate that it may be pilot error. The plane was registered to New York Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle. Four dead reported so far.