A small airplane crashed while approaching the airport in Butte, Montana, killing 17 on board, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Media reports say the plane was carrying children on a ski vacation.
AFP - A single-engine plane, reported to be carrying children on a ski vacation to the Rocky Mountains, crashed on approach to an airport in western Montana on Sunday, killing 17 people, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
A photograph taken by an eyewitness moments after the crash and broadcast on CNN showed a fireball blazing through a grove of trees near a cemetery a short distance from the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, Montana, where the plane went down.
A reporter from the Montana Standard newspaper cited local emergency officials as saying the plane was carrying a group of young children en route to a ski vacation in Bozeman, Montana, southeast of the crash site and about 50 miles north of Yellowstone National Park.
An FAA spokesman in Seattle, Mike Fergus, put the preliminary death toll from the crash at 17 people. He said there was no indication of any survivors on the plane, nor of casualties on the ground.
He said authorities on the scene had reported to the FAA that a number of children were on the plane.
A Los Angeles-based FAA official said the plane had taken off from the northern California town of Oroville, and crashed on final approach at the airport in Butte.
Fergus told CNN the pilot had filed a flight plan showing a final destination of Bozeman but canceled that at some point and headed instead for Butte. The plane, a single-engine turboprop Pilatus PC12, crashed about 500 feet from the airport while attempting to land and burst into flames.
An official of the Butte-Silver Bow County Fire Department reached by telephone declined comment, as did an airport spokesman, both of whom referred queries back to the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
NTSB officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Date created : 2009-03-23