Small Plane Crashes Into NYC Building, No Indication of Terrorism (Update: NORAD Putting Fighter Aircraft Over 'Numerous' U.S. Cities as Precaution)

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Oct 11, 2006 3:04 PM

Blech, there's a stomach-dropper.

I sounds like it's pretty small, from what I can tell on CNN.

A small aircraft has crashed into a high-rise residential building at 72nd Street and York in Manhattan, police said. Police are en route to the site, said to be at 525 E. 72nd Street. Flames and smoke could be seen pouring from the high rise apartment as fire engines raced to the scene.

More in a second. NORAD didn't scramble any jets and was not tracking the flight, as it would have been if they had considered it a terrorist threat or a hijacking, according to CNN.

More from the second AP write-through:

A small plane crashed into a high-rise on Manhattan's Upper East Side, setting off a raging fire that sent a pillar of gray smoke over the city, police said Wednesday. There was no immediate word on any deaths or injuries.

It was not immediately known if it was terrorism.

Flames could be seen shooting from windows on two upper floors of the 50-story building, near the East River. Burning debris fell from the tower, and a column of gray smoke rose over the city.

Fire Department spokeswoman Emily Rahimi said the aircraft struck struck the 20th floor of a building on East 72nd Street.

The poor people of New York. Their hearts do not deserve the jolt they'll get looking up at the skyline today. The picture on CNN is sickening enough for me.

I'm hearing no reports on injuries or deaths.

It looks as if the fire is on one or two stories of what most are identifying as an apartment building.

Update: It's the Bel Aire, a 50-story apartment building, according to AP.

Burning debris fell on the streets below as firefighters shot water streams of water at the flames from lower floors.

Fire Department spokeswoman Emily Rahimi said the aircraft struck struck the 20th floor.

Update: Here's the Google Map satelltite picture of the location (not live, just for reference). 

Update: The WaPo is playing this story way below the digital fold-- as in, the fifth story down in the right column. Now, I'm all for avoiding inciting panic with cuhhh-razy news coverage, but a plane hitting a building in NYC is a huge story, no matter what. The placement seems...odd.

Update: Stocks dive on the news of the crash.

Update: NORAD putting fighter aircraft in the air over several major cities, as reported by CNN. NORAD emphasizes that they have no information that this is anything but an accident, but they're doing it as a precaution.

Update: White House says all indications are that this is an accident, but they're not ruling anything else in or out. No change in security levels for President. Sounds like we're very likely to be in the clear, but Bush will catch all hell from the Lefties for scrambling jets. Of course, if he didn't and there were an attack, that'd be his fault, too.

Update: Allah says two confirmed dead.

Update: Ms. Underestimated has video of news coverage.

Update: Via AP:

An FBI spokeswoman says there is no indication of terrorism in the crash of an aircraft into a Manhattan apartment building.

Update:  There's some dispute over whether it was a helicopter or a fixed-wing plane, but the eye-witnesses I've heard interviewed have said fixed-wing, small, single-engine plane. A pilot, interviewed on CNN, who saw the accident, said the plane looked like it was in trouble, banking hard.

Update: More from AP's eye-witnesses:

Richard Drutman, a professional photographer who lives on the building's 11th floor, said he was speaking on the telephone when he felt the building shake.

"There was a huge explosion. I looked out my window, and saw what appeared to be pieces of wings, on fire, falling from the sky," Drutman said.

He and his girlfriend quickly evacuated the building.

Update: Obligatory DU thread. Whew, I had a tough time choosing. It's a Truther jungle gym over there.

Update: Allah's saying 4 confirmed dead--two in the plane, two in the building. I haven't heard that. I've got CNN on in the background and they're way behind on the casualty reporting.

Update: CNN's reporting that a may-day call came from the pilot, perhaps something about a fueling problem.

Update: I'm hearing on TV that the pilot could have been the Yankees' Corey Lidle.