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This is a breaking story - check AP for updates here.
A Continental commuter plane coming in for a landing nose-dived into a house in suburban Buffalo, sparking a fiery explosion that killed all 49 people aboard and a person in the home. It was the nation's first fatal crash of a commercial airliner in 2 1/2 years.
Witnesses heard the twin turboprop aircraft sputtering before it went down in light snow and fog around 10:20 p.m. Thursday about five miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., came in squarely through the roof of the house, its tail section visible through flames shooting at least 50 feet high.
"The whole sky was lit up orange," said Bob Dworak, who lives less than a mile away. "All the sudden, there was a big bang, and the house shook."
Two others in the house escaped with minor injuries. The plane was carrying a four-member crew and an off-duty pilot. Among the 44 passengers killed was a woman whose husband died in the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
By morning, with the rubble still smoking, the task of retrieving remains had not yet begun.
Erie County Emergency Coordinator David Bissonette said it appeared the plane "dove directly on top of the house."
"It was a direct hit," Bissonette said. "It's remarkable that it only took one house. As devastating as that is, it could have wiped out the entire neighborhood."
Keep reading the breaking story here.
Relatives of passengers aboard flight should call 1-800-621-3263 for information
The crash is America's deadliest since a Comair commuter jet crashed in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 27, 2006. That crash also claimed 49 lives.
Here is video of the plane crash:
Here is MSNBC video with accounts from witnesses:
Dramatic recordings of cockpit-control tower communicatons capture the repeated attempts to get in touch with the plane.
"All of a sudden, we have no response... We're not talking to them now, " says a controller at one point.
Listen to the recording:
Here is CNN video of the press conference held by emergency officials:
Click through this slideshow of the crash scene:
UPDATE 2:30 AM:
Chilling recordings of a female pilot's communications with air traffic controllers, from the Website LiveATC.net, capture the moments before the crash.
Nothing seems unusual as the plane is asked to fly at 2,300 feet.
But a minute later, when the controllers tries contacting the plane and doesn't get a response, he makes another attempt.
The Associated Press reports what happened in the next few minutes:
Then the controller asks the pilot of a nearby Delta Air Lines plane to see if he can see the Continental flight.
"Delta 1998, look off your right side about 5 miles for a Dash 8 about 2,300 (feet). You see anything there?" he asks.
"Uh, negative," the Delta pilot says.
UPDATE 2:10 AM:
The plane came in low and fast, according to witnesses interviewed by CNN and the Buffalo News reports that the plane had experienced mechanical problems:
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said there was little communication between the plane, Flight 3407, and the tower before the crash. Crew members aboard the flight from Newark Airport had reported mechanical problems as they approached Buffalo.
The plane reportedly was a Bombardier Q400, a twin-engine turboprop with a passenger capacity of about 74.
A commercial plane crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York, and burst into flames, and there was no immediate report if there were any survivors, CNN reported on Friday.
The plane, which could seat up to 60 passengers, was on a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo, when it crashed late on Thursday night, it said.
The New York Times reports:
[Erie County executive Chris] Collins said the plane, Continental Airlines Flight 3407, crashed about 10:20, five minutes before it was due to land. The house it crashed into was still fully engulfed in flames at 12:30 a.m., and Mr. Collins said that about 12 houses were evacuated and a limited state of emergency was declared.
Here is more info on the flight path of Flight 3407.
CNN talked to some bystanders who witnessed the crash:
Area resident Keith Burtis said he was driving to the store about a mile from the crash site when he heard the plane go down. "It was a high-pitched sound," Burtis said. "It felt like a mini-earthquake."
Shortly after the crash, Burtis said he saw a steady stream of fire trucks rush by him as smoke billowed into the sky.
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