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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
NY air crash kills baseball star
Cory Lidle
Cory Lidle played for the Yankees baseball club
A US baseball star has died after his small aircraft crashed into a high-rise building in the centre of New York.

Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, 34, and his flying instructor died when their plane slammed into the apartment block.

Authorities have ruled out terrorism but the incident initially caused jet fighters to be scrambled above major cities in the United States.

The impact sent flames leaping from windows of the 52-storey building in Manhattan's Upper East Side district.

Aircraft parts and debris were scattered around the crash site.

'Shocking tragedy'

"This is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organisation," the owner of the Yankees baseball club, George Steinbrenner, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if it was Mr Lidle, who owned the four-seater plane, who was flying the aircraft.

Only he and his instructor were on board the plane.

Police say they are investigating the cause of the crash, which took place in overcast weather, as an accident.


A spokesman said that while suicide could not be ruled out, there was nothing to suggest that this had been the cause of the crash.

New York residents described how the incident evoked memories of the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

Witness Joshua Asquith told the BBC news website: "Everybody was really shocked here, we thought of a terrorist attack. There was also a lot of noise and dust around here, causing an atmosphere of terror and fear."

Roger Gosden, another eyewitness, told the BBC that "everyone in the street looked up [after hearing the crash], perhaps having flashbacks of 9/11".

Mr Lidle's plane took off from a New Jersey airport on Wednesday, circling the Statue of Liberty before flying towards Manhattan.

The baseball star was reported to have told the New York Times in September that he was not worried about flying accidents.

"If you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly," he said.

Mr Lidle's Major League career began when he started playing for the New York Mets in 1997.

Coastguard video of the New York plane crash

In pictures: New York plane crash
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