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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 December 2005, 09:23 GMT
Seaplane crash kills 20 in Miami
Smoke from falling seaplane, captured on a mobile telephone by Sandy Rodriguez, aged 14
The plane left a plume of black smoke as it crashed into the sea
A seaplane crashed into water near Miami Beach in Florida killing all 20 people on board.

Nineteen bodies had been recovered, with one still missing, from waters around the twin-engine 1940s-era plane, officials said.

Amateur video footage showed the plane apparently on fire before it crashed into Miami's main shipping lane.

The chartered seaplane, run by Chalk's Ocean Airways, flew regularly between Miami and the Bahamas.

Most of the victims, who include three children, are thought to be from the Bahamian island of Bimini.

Scuba divers, speedboats and helicopters combed the crash site but were unable to find any survivors, officials said late Monday.

Rescue teams hope to raise the plane and recover its flight recorder on Tuesday, Mark Rosenker of the US National Transportation and Safety Board told reporters.

"We will be looking at everything in the investigation, nothing is off the table," he said.

FBI agents are also investigating the crash scene as a routine matter "to make sure there's no terrorist link", spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.

'On fire'

Video broadcast on CNN showed the right wing of the plane breaking off as flames issued from the fuselage.

Parts of the aircraft could be seen in shallower waters nearby following the crash, which happened shortly before 1500 local time (2000 GMT).

Map showing location of Miami, Florida

Witnesses told local television that the plane seemed to explode in the sky before it fell into Government Cut, the entry to the Port of Miami.

"It exploded in the air and one of the wings flew out of there. The other part of the plane was on fire and it just went straight down," eyewitness Maurice D'Giovianni, a surfer who was in the water at the time, told the Associated Press news agency.

The plane was a twin-engine Grumman G-73T Turbine Mallard seaplane, manufactured in 1947, reports said.

Chalk's has been operating flights between the Bahamas and the US since the 1930s.

Director of operations, Roger Nair, described the company as a "close-knit family airline". "The thoughts and prayers are with the passenger and crews," he said.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie issued a statement of condolence on behalf of his government.


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See images of the seaplane caught on mobile phone




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