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Airplane Crashes in Queens

Aired November 12, 2001 - 09:28   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We are just learning from Associated Press there has been a small plane crash in Queens, which is one of the boroughs, here, of New York City. We can't tell you much more than that, but obviously you're looking at the crash site right now. WCBS, and we don't actually need this to -- for us to understand the buildings are on fire. You can probably figure that out from this picture, but we are carrying their live shot right now. I can't tell by looking from this picture where this would be in proximity to any of the airports, but Andy Serwer is a guy who has lived here a long time in New York City. La Guardia, of course, is located in Queens.


ZAHN: Now, it's being confirmed that this happened in the Rockaway session -- section of Queens. Once again, we can't tell you the size of the aircraft, now being told they believe this plane crashed closer to JFK than to La Guardia. Those are the two airports that you have a choice of landing at in the area. We'll continue to carry this picture as we try to sort through some details that are being called in right now. Once again, this is about all we can tell you. That a small plane has gone down. Well, we believe it to be a small plane, has gone down in the Queens borough of New York City. Our sources telling this -- this has happened closer to JFK Airport than La Guardia.

Of course, in aftermath of the attacks of September 11th, there has been great concern from people living in the Queens area, of New York about -- okay, now we are learning from Associated Press that this was an American Airlines flight which would indicate this probably was not a small plane. They have commuter shuttles, of course, that run out of La Guardia airport. We're going to break into WCBS's coverage since they're carrying a live shot and bring you more details as they become available. Let's listen.

DAVID, WCBS CORRESPONDENT: -- belonging to American Airlines. Flight number is still unknown, origin or destination still not certain. There are four houses on fire, on the ground, in the area, that is Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue, that's in the Rockaways, and there are at least those four buildings reported on fire. You can see in the picture, here, helicopters presumably NYPD, are circling the area where that plume of dense, black smoke is rising from the area of the Rockaways in Queens.

As you look at this live picture right now, the latest, again, is that it is an American Airlines 767. No flight number available yet. Origin or destination still not known. How many passengers aboard still not known, or the fate of any of those people, as well as those immediately on the ground, where four buildings are reported to be on fire as a result of that plane going down. It is in Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue. That is in the Rockaways, and it would not be far from the beach.


DAVID: Yes, Michael?

MICHAEL: David, Michael. Just wanted to ask you, haven't had chance to go outside much early this morning, but it appears to have been a very clear day.

DAVID: It is, Michael. It's absolutely -- it's one of those crystal-clear, you know, fall mornings. Kind of a little cool but clear. So it's not, certainly, anything that would be -- that would appear to be weather related in any way.

MICHAEL: We're looking at the live pictures David has been describing now, for several moments now. At Beach 129th Street, Newport Avenue in the Rockaways. You continue to see, what appear to be, David correct me if I am wrong, look like helicopters that are circling that area. What we are told now from the Office of Emergency Management, is in fact a plane crash, an American Airlines 767, but David, at this point you say we don't know the flight number?

DAVID: No, we don't have that yet or how many people on board or where it was coming from, or where it was heading. By the way, Michael, we just learned that the mayor is on his way. This is a level one mobilization. That means all available police and emergency units, fire et cetera are directed to that area, and clearly, at the very least, in one form or another, another form of disaster hitting this city, which already, of course, has its plate full. A mayor who has dealing with so much of that is on his way out there right now, Michael.

And you can see on the picture, to the right of the smoke, you see what appears to be another helicopter, perhaps more than one in that area, that is circling the area where the plume of smoke is coming up, and that is where that plane has crashed.

You can see some lights on the ground, some movement there, occasionally on the lower left hand picture, and on the right as well.

You see some lights that appear to be emergency vehicles moving. Do you see that, Michael?

MICHAEL: Yeah, as a matter of fact we do. Just some very limited flickering there. If you're watching us now, maybe you see there along the banner that we run across the bottom of your television screen near the time and temperature, you see some of those flashes that you're alluding to, and some choppers, there, continuing to circle that area. David, have we heard anything at all from JFK? DAVID: No, not yet. We have been efforting, as we call it in the news business, trying to reach out, trying to talk to the Federal Aviation Administration, Kennedy Airport, the Port Authority Police. Calls are in to all of those agencies and locations, but we have not been able to reach them yet. You mentioned Kennedy Airport. That is not very far away at all. I'd say it's within the range of 5-10 miles, would be my guess, Michael, between the area where this crash is at Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue in the Rockaways and the runways at Kennedy Airport.

So, there's the possible presumption, that's what it would be, that that plane was headed into Kennedy Airport. It's a large airliner. It's a 767. And it's very likely that it was heading there or even possibly that it had taken off from there. That is just at this point, that's speculating because don't have word for sure. But, certainly we know that it is a 767 American Airlines, and that it is down, and that four buildings, at least four buildings, in that area of the Rockaways are on fire.

MICHAEL: You had mentioned, also, that you thought perhaps there was a gas station in that area which may or may not, in fact, be adding to what it is we're witnessing here. As you had mentioned, the source of that smoke seems to be fairly widespread.

DAVID: Yes. In fact -- and by the way, Michael, we're just learning that emergency crews are setting up command centers in the area. That means obviously that they are already there.

ZAHN: We're going to break into this WCBS coverage to report to you what American Airlines is now confirming to us. They are telling us that one of their planes, a 767, has gone down in the Far Rockaways area of Queens. It is believed that crash site is anywhere from 5 to 10 miles away from Kennedy Airport. It is not clear at this point whether this plane was landing or taking off. You've heard the speculation as well as I have.

We're going to try to sort through all this conflicting information as quickly as we can. We can also tell you that the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, is now headed to the crash site. He has called for a Level One Mobilization, that means all EMS crews and fire department workers are directed to that area. You can see the helicopter continuing to circle the crash site.

We know that at least four buildings are on fire. WCBS reporting potentially that there is a gas station in the area. We are not sure at this point whether the fire involves that area surrounding the gas station. Once again, American Airlines confirming that one of their planes, a 767, has crashed in the Rockaway Beach area of Queens. For those of you who aren't familiar with the geography of New York City, we are told that this the crash is happening closer to the site of JFK than it is to La Guardia.




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