Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Three die as small plane hits houses in California


A small aircraft has crashed in the US state of California shortly after take-off, hitting two houses.

All three people on board the twin-engine plane died in the crash in Palo Alto, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration told US media.

He said the Cessna 310 had "crashed under unknown circumstances", but eyewitnesses said it hit a power line.

There are no reported casualties on the ground, even though two of the houses hit caught fire.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer for the electric-car company Tesla Motors.

Bad weather

It is not known whether Mr Bourn was on the plane when the accident happened.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said all three victims worked for his company, but did not identify them further.

The plane took off from Palo Alto Airport bound for Hawthorne Municipal Airport in southern California.

A resident told local news station KTVU that she saw the plane hit a power line before it exploded and crashed into the two homes.

The woman said that one of the homes operates as a day-care centre, but that there were no children in it at the time of the crash, which happened just before 0800 local time (1600 GMT).

The area was experiencing poor visibility at the time of the accident, with thick fog grounding a number of Southwest Airlines flights.

Widespread power cuts have been reported in the wake of the crash.

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