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Friday, October 28, 2011

Passenger Plane Crashes on Busy Vancouver Street

Daily Mail: A small aeroplane crashed on a busy Canadian city street injuring all nine aboard - but miraculously no one was killed. The plane broke in half and burst into flames as it hit the ground near Vancouver International Airport yesterday afternoon.

Three people, two of them believed to be crew members, are critically ill. A person on the ground was also injured in the crash and taken to hospital.

The Beech King Air 100 caught fire after it came to rest on a street just 900 metres from the airport. Witness Steven Baran told CBC News that the aircraft slammed onto the road and slid into a car before stopping. Baran, who works for the post office at the airport, said no-one in the car appeared to be hurt and his first instinct was to help the plane passengers.

He said he and other witnesses 'made a beeline for the plane'.

He said: 'The rear door was ajar and one of the fellows pulled it down. One after another, we just pulled passengers out real quick.'

Alyssa Polinsky, spokesman for Vancouver Coastal Health, said three people were taken to Vancouver General Hospital in critical condition, while three more were stable. Another three people were taken to the nearby Richmond General Hospital with injuries considered to be non-life threatening.

A pedestrian was also sent to hospital after being struck by a flying object. The person's condition was unknown. Two people in a car were also reported to have suffered minor injuries.

'We have everything from burns to fractures and back injuries,' Miss Polinsky said in an interview, adding she had no information on any identities.

The plane can carry up to nine passengers.

'The plane's basically broken in half, as far as I can see,' said Graeme Wallace, who works at a nearby pilot supply store. He said about half of the plane was burning, but emergency crews put out the fire.

The plane, operated by British Columbia-based Northern Thunderbird Air, was bound for Kelowna.

Bill Yearwood, from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said the flight took off at 3.40pm but turned around when the crew got the 'indication of a problem' about 15 minutes after take-off. The aircraft did not make it back to the airport, crashing on Russ Baker Way in Richmond, about 900 metres short of the runway.

In an audio recording, obtained by CBC News, the pilot can be heard telling air traffic control that he is declaring an emergency and turning back to Vancouver, but is confident he can reach the airfield. The air traffic controller asks the pilot to confirm whether he 'doesn't need equipment or help' on the runway.

The pilot calmly responds: 'Negative, everything's good here at the moment'.

Visibility was good with clear skies at the time of the crash, CBC meteorologist Claire Martin said. An airport statement said the Vancouver Airport Authority went into emergency mode at 4.12pm local time.

A database run by the Flight Safety Foundation shows Northern Thunderbird Air had two deadly small-plane crashes in 1975 and 1977.

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