Two killed in fiery crash of UPS cargo jet
Updated: 2013-08-15 06:43
BIRMINGHAM - A large UPS cargo plane crashed and burst into flames killing its pilot and copilot just before dawn on Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama.
Flames rise from a UPS Airbus A300 cargo plane which crashed near the airport in Birmingham, Alabama August 14, 2013 in this still image from video courtesy of TV station Alabama's 13.[Photo/Agencies]
"I can confirm they were killed in the crash," Birmingham Mayor William Bell said of the pair, who were not identified immediately. He added that there were no other casualties reported.
United Parcel Service Inc flight 1354, which took office from Louisville, Kentucky, was on approach to the airport in Birmingham when it crashed at about 5 a.m. CDT (1000 GMT), according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane was identified as an Airbus A300.
A National Transportation Safety Board response team from Washington was expected to hold a briefing near the crash site on Wednesday.
No distress calls were made to the airport tower, according to April Odom, a spokeswoman for Bell.
"It sounded like a transformer that blowed up," said Odell Rich, a fruit vendor who said he witnessed the crash. "There was a big explosion that lit up the sky. It jarred the earth. It looked to me like it hit a power line and plowed into the ground."
An intense fire erupted after the crash in the sparsely populated area, but it was quickly brought under control, Bell said.
"It was quite a large fire and there were two to three explosions after the plane caught fire, after the crash itself," Bell said.
Pedro Torres, who lives about two blocks from the crash site, saw "a big flash" from the window of his home when the plane went down. He said the crash was preceded by the sound of what he described as "a backfire" and the noise of an engine with an open throttle.
"My house shuddered like an earthquake. I saw a big airplane on the ground, scattered everywhere with lots of smoke," he said.
A field of debris could be seen around the crash site in an area of Birmingham where many homes have been bulldozed to make way for an airport expansion.
"This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," said Mitch Nichols, president of UPS Airlines. "We place the utmost value on the safety of our employees, our customers and the public." UPS is the world's largest package-delivery service.