Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

'The plane didn't sound normal'

Scene of the plane crash
Local residents say they have been overwhelmed by smoke

Residents have described seeing and hearing explosions as a commuter plane crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York State, killing all on board.

Tony Tatro told CNN he was on his way home in his car when he saw the plane diving steeply towards the ground.

He said the plane seemed to be heading in exactly the opposite direction to the one it should have been going in order to reach the airport.

He said: "It was [flying] nose down, hardly above the treetops, and its left wing was tilted slightly down."

"I did not see any landing gear. I saw the underbelly of the plane fairly well. There was nothing burning on the plane and no physical damage. Nothing seemed wrong, except it was on a bad path."

'Chainsaw on wood'

He said the plane was also making a worrying noise. "I know what a normal plane sounds like and this didn't sound normal."

Then, he said, "I saw the plane crash, fly right over my car, I had to look out of the top of my windshield to see it... The left wing was slightly down, pitched slightly sideways."

"It was not spiralling at all, the left wing was just a little bit low, it was on a very direct line down, it was on a steep angle."

Map of US

He said he lives one house away from the crash site and the area has been overwhelmed by sirens, smoke and heat.

"As I look out the back window of my apartment... there is literally one house between me and where the impact happened."

Erie County Executive Chris Collins said the plane turned into a fireball on impact.

"The tail of the plane is sticking out of the ground," he said. "Obviously, it exploded upon impact. So there was a lot of fire initially.

"It came down right next to the fire hall. So there were firemen on this scene within literally seconds of it going down."

'Big bang'

And Bob Dworak, who lives less than a mile from the crash site, also noted the plane sounded in trouble before it crashed. He said he was used to planes passing overhead, but this one sounded louder than usual, sputtered and made some odd noises.

Then, he told reporters, "there was a big bang, and the house shook".

He drove over to take a look, and "all we were seeing was 50-100ft (15-30m) flames and a pile of rubble on the ground".

"It looked like the house just got destroyed the instant it got hit," he said. "The whole sky was lit up orange."

It was a very low buzzing sound and very eerie sound, it didn't sound like anything I had heard before
Brendan, eyewitness

Another witness, named Brendan, speaking to CNN, said although he did not see the plane hit the ground, he could tell it was in trouble as it flew low overhead.

"I didn't see much until after the impact, but I certainly heard and felt the impact," he said.

"It was a very low buzzing sound and very eerie sound, it didn't sound like anything I had heard before."

He said the best way to describe the noise he heard was like "a chainsaw on wood", and then he felt his home shake as the plane crashed.

He said: "As soon as I heard the impact, I knew that this is what it would be."

Before emergency services personnel arrived, he said neighbours and a number of local volunteer firefighters arrived at the crash site.

Brendan added that even though his home was not evacuated, the smoke was so acrid that he considered leaving anyway.

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