Boeing 747 crashes into house

2008-07-08 09:26

Bogota - A US cargo plane taking flowers from Bogota to Miami crashed into a house shortly after take-off on Monday, killing three people who were inside the home, officials said.

The Boeing 747, owned by Michigan-based company Kalitta Air, fell on the rural home 20km west of Bogota after reporting engine fire, said Colombia's Civil Aviation agency said.

"As a result of the accident three people - residents of a house that the aircraft hit - died," the agency said in a statement.

The dead included an adult and two children who lived in the farm house when it was struck by one of the plane's jet engines, witnesses told local radio.

The plane's eight crewmembers survived the crash and were taken to a hospital in the town of Madrid. Four of them were out of danger while the rest, including the pilot, were being treated for serious injuries, police said.

The plane had taken off from Bogota's El Dorado airport before it crashed and burst into flames.

"The plane crashed when it was trying to return to Bogota after reporting a fire in one engine," Donald Tascon, a top official with Civil Aviation, told reporters.

As it was turning around, the plane lost an engine, which dropped onto the farmhouse, before it crashed and burst into flames in a nearby field.

"We first awoke to the sound of the airplane, then we saw it crashing. It nearly fell on us," Hernando Panqueva, a neighbour of the victims, told AFP.

"We heard a loud roar and then the first explosion, followed by a bigger one. We went outside with our dad and saw a fire in the middle of the fields," said Jeison Vargas, the 19-year-old son of a ranch administrator nearby.

Civil Aviation said the plane was owned by Kalitta Air and "operated in Colombia by the company Centurion", which is also from the United States.

Kalitta Air spokesperson Pete Sinderland confirmed that the company owned the plane.

"The aircraft is a Boeing 747 leaving from Bogota to Miami carrying flowers," Sinderland told AFP. "We do not have the cause of the crash."

Another cargo plane, also from a Michigan-based company, USA Jet Airlines, carrying auto parts crashed on Sunday in northern Mexico, killing the pilot and injuring the co-pilot.