Mi­ami jet crashes; 3 be­lieved to be dead

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Marc Free­man

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

said.

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.

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