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Page last updated at 21:35 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 22:35 UK

Low-level flight panics New York

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The president was not on board the plane

The White House has apologised after a low-level flight by a presidential jet and a fighter plane sparked panic among New York City office workers.

The half-hour flight triggered the evacuation of a number of office buildings in the city.

Pentagon officials said the fly past - a photographic exercise not involving President Obama - had been co-ordinated with city and state authorities.

No general public notification was issued in advance.

"While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption," Louis Caldera, director of the White House military office, said in a statement.

"I apologise and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."

Mobile phone photo of Boeing 747 flying low over New York harbour, followed by an F-16 fighter jet, 27 April 2009
New Yorkers were startled as the planes flew over the city's harbour

Correspondents say many New York residents are still scarred by the September 2001 attacks when airliners ploughed into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was "furious" about the incident, criticising those responsible for failing to warn the public.

"The good news is it was nothing more than an inconsiderate, badly conceived and insensitive photo op with the taxpayers' money," said Mr Bloomberg.

The Boeing 747 jet is one of two planes known as Air Force One when the US president is aboard.



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