Miami jet crashes; 3 believed to be dead
A cargo jetliner originating from Miami crashed with three people aboard into a bay east of Houston early Saturday afternoon, officials said.
“Knowing what I saw I don’t believe anyone could have survived,” Sheriff Brian Hawthorne of Chambers County told reporters, describing the recovery of some human remains from the water. “It looks like total devastation from the aircraft.”
The plane, a twin-engine Boeing 767 cargo jetliner operated by Atlas Air and serving Amazon Prime, crashed into Trinity Bay near Anahuac, Texas, shortly before 12:45 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Witnesses told emergency personnel that the plane “went in nose first,” leaving a floating debris field three-quarters of a mile long. The witnesses reporting hearing the plane’s engines surging and that the craft turned sharply before falling into a nosedive, Hawthorne said.
The sheriff said recovering
pieces of the plane, its black box containing flight data records and any remains of the people on board will be difficult in muddy marshland that extends to about 5 feet deep in the area. Air boats are needed to access the area.
Atlas Air Flight 3591, flying from Miami to Houston, lost radar and radio contact approximately 30 miles southeast of Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Trinity Bay is just north of Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard dispatched boats and at least one helicopter to assist in the search for survivors. A dive team with the Texas Department of Public Safety will be tasked with finding the black box, the sheriff
Purchase, N.Y.-based Atlas Air Worldwide, which has an office in Miami, released a statement that the company is fully cooperating with investigators and confirmed there were three people on the plane when it went down.
“Those people and their family members are our top priority at this time,” the company said.
Atlas Air’s website says the company provides “the ultimate in safe, reliable cargo and passenger transport.”
According to the website Flight Aware, the plane departed Miami at 11:33 a.m. and its last reported altitude was about 3,000 feet, when it appeared the aircraft was descending toward Houston.
FAA investigators and the FBI joined first responders at the crash site. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.
The Boeing company tweeted it was “deeply saddened to learn of the Atlas Air 767 freighter” crash. “Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB as it investigates the accident,” the tweet said.
Amazon also released a statement on the crash.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations. “We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.