Aircraft hits Manhattan building; 2 dead

Aircraft hits Manhattan
building; 2 dead

AP Photo: This image
from television shows fire and smoke after a small plane crashed into
a…

By COLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago


NEW YORK – A small plane crashed into an Upper East Side high-rise
Wednesday, shooting flames out the windows, raining debris on the
sidewalks below and rattling New Yorkers’ nerves exactly one month
after the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Police
confirmed 2 people are dead.

Christine Monaco, a New York
spokeswoman for

FBI,
said there was no indication of terrorism, but that officials "have
been sent to the scene as a routine." FAA spokesman Jim Peters said all
three New York City-area airports were operating normally.

"The initial indication is that
there is a terrible accident," said Department of

Homeland Security
spokesman Russ Knocke.

Nevertheless, fighter jets were
scrambled over U.S. cities as a precaution, the

Pentagon said.

The aircraft struck the 20th
floor of a building on East 72nd
Street, said Fire Department spokeswoman Emily Rahimi. Witnesses said
the crash caused a loud noise, and flames were seen shooting out of the
windows.

"It’s a mob scene with police
and helicopters circling," said Sandy
Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. "There’s a dozen
ambulances and lots of firefighters waiting on 72nd, on the corner.
There’s lots of stretchers ready, gurneys. And lots of emergency people
waiting."

The crash struck fear in a city
devastated by the attacks of Sept.
11 five years ago. Witnesses said sirens echoed across the east side of
Manhattan as emergency workers rushed to the scene. The crash triggered
a loud bang. Broken glass and debris was strewn around the neighborhood.

"There’s a sense of
helplessness," Teller said. "Cots and gurneys, waiting. It’s a mess."

The

Federal
Aviation Administration

said it was too early to determine what type of aircraft was involved,
or what might have caused the crash in the middle of a hazy October
afternoon.

Richard Drutman, a professional
photographer who lives on the
building’s 11th floor, said he was speaking on the telephone when he
felt the building shake.

"There was a huge explosion. I
looked out my window, and saw what
appeared to be pieces of wings, on fire, falling from the sky," Drutman
said.

He and his girlfriend quickly
evacuated the building.

The address of the building is
524 E. 72nd Street — a 50-story
condominium tower built in the late 1980s and located near Sotheby’s
auction house. The Belaire Condo, developed by William Zeckendorf Jr.,
has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.

Several lower floors of the
building are occupied by doctors and
administrative offices, as well as guest facilities for family members
of patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery, hospital spokeswoman
Phyllis Fisher said. No patients were in the high-rise building and
operations at the hospital a block away weren’t affected, Fisher said.
The Hospital for Special Surgery specializes in orthopedic operations.

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