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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 17:34 GMT
Jet 'exploded into pieces'
Firefighters battle blaze around wreckage
Residents watched as firefighters battled the blaze
Eyewitnesses have spoken of their horror at seeing an Airbus A300 crash into a residential area of New York.

Witnesses reported seeing a fire or explosion on one side of the aircraft as an engine fell off.

The plane then crashed into the Rockaway area of Queens.


I saw the flames and the smoke and I just thought, 'Oh no, not again'

Milena Owens
Milena Owens, who lives yards from the crash site, said she was putting up Thanksgiving decorations on her window when she saw the plane fly far too low.

"I heard the explosion and I looked out the window and saw the flames and the smoke and I just thought, 'Oh no, not again'."

"The whole house shook," said Gus Cholakis, who lives 100 yards from the spot where some of the wreckage came to rest.

Resident's prayers

"I looked out the window, the first thing I saw was a huge fireball right outside."

Mr Cholakis, 38, said he had known 13 of those lost when the World Trade Center collapsed.


This neighbourhood has been through enough

Gus Cholakis
He admitted he was praying he had not lost more friends, adding: "This neighbourhood has been through enough."

John Maroney, 47, said the engine plummeted onto a Texaco petrol station near his house, and pieces of plane were only a few hundred yards away.

"That's probably what shook us up from our beds. The whole house jumped.

'Climbing position'

"We were all out there with fire extinguishers and hoses, but we couldn't do much."

Ethan Moses said he had seen the plane climbing in the sky after take-off.


It was travelling to the left slightly and then it just nose dived straight down

Ethan Moses
"It was in a climbing position and when I looked up I saw fire on the left side of the engine," he told CNN.

The wing appeared to separate from the rest of the plane, which veered to the left and then plunged into a nose dive, he said.

"It was travelling to the left slightly and then it just nose dived straight down," Mr Moses said, adding that fire spread on the ground, moving from house to house within seconds.

Phyllis Paul said she heard the plane's engine drone louder as it descended.

Falling metal

"It was very, very loud. Because of what happened on 11 September, it gave me a chill," she told CNN.

"It was getting louder and louder and I looked out the window. I saw a piece of metal falling from the sky."


The wings were going backwards and forwards like it was trying to balance itself

Phyllis Paul
Beverly Browne, from Brooklyn, said she saw white smoke coming from the plane before it crashed.

"The wings were going backwards and forwards like it was trying to balance itself. There was white smoke coming out of it.

"It just couldn't seem to stabilise itself. The next thing I knew it had crashed."

David Solero was driving over a bridge by Rockaway when he saw fire on the left hand side of the plane.

He told CNN: "We looked up and saw the fire coming from the left hand side - it could have been an explosion."

Plane 'veered'

Other witnesses told reporters that the fire or explosion was on the right hand side of the plane.

Mr Solero added: "It could have been the engine was on fire.

"It flew right over us, started to veer to the left then it veered back right.

"I was scared it was going to veer towards us and hit us - we stopped dead in our tracks.

"We saw something fly off the plane."

One woman fled her home, fearing she could be killed.

Concorde-like sound

She told CNN: "It was a huge, loud sound. It seemed so loud that I was like ducking almost.

"I just heard - it sounded like Concorde flying too low and then it just hit.


I was scared it was going to veer towards us and hit us - we stopped dead in our tracks

David Solero

It sounded like Concorde flying too low and then it just hit

Eyewitness
"It blew up into a huge fireball and I jumped out the second floor of my house.

"It hit the house behind me and I think it exploded into pieces.

"I went over the deck in the front of my house because the back was so hot.

"We were just in shock and we had to evacuate two streets away. It was so horrible.

"There is a lot of terror here. Everybody is in shock.

"I was very, very lucky."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Christian Fraser at the scene of the crash
"There is a huge crater where the main fuselage came down"
Residents of Queens
recall the moment flight 587 crashed into the Rockaway Beach area
Liz Sulik, president, local Chamber of Commerce
"We have lived under the flight pattern of Kennedy Airport for so many years"
See also:

12 Nov 01 | Americas
Passenger jet crashes in New York
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