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Eyewitness Andrew Smith
"There was a huge fireball"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 05:47 GMT
'It lit up the sky'

Witnesses saw lots of falling debris

Eyewitnesses of the jumbo jet crash at Stansted airport have told of a "huge fireball" which looked like a giant mushroom cloud.

There were lots of flaming particles in the sky...then it went very quiet and we realised something terrible had happened
Annette Brooke-Taylor
Resident Andrew Smith said the plane crashed at about 1840 GMT in a "huge fireball".

"The whole of our house shook and the whole sky was lit up," he said.

Resident Gary Dann felt the earth shudder as the plane fell to the ground.

"I thought it was going to land on us, it felt so close," he said.

Neill Foster, who was driving from the airport terminal to the M11 when the plane crashed, said: "There was a large flash followed by a large bang.

Neill Foster: "There was a large flash"
"There was lots of falling debris, all on fire falling on roads surrounding the area."

He said it was raining and cloudy, with strong winds, at the time of the crash.

Louise Cockburn, 27, a car rental agent at the airport, said there was an atmosphere of shock.

"There was like a tremor. It was just like this trembling noise and the whole building shook," she said. "All the windows shook and you could feel it around you."

The sky just went completely orange and there was a ball of flames
Deborah Smith
The BBC's James Blatch, reporting from the scene, said: "The debris field goes on for hundreds of yards. There is a large section of what looks like fuselage sticking out of the ground.

"There are bits of metal and twisted fragments in the trees. This Boeing 747 appears to have been completely and utterly destroyed."

Resident Deborah Smith told BBC Radio 5 Live: "All of a sudden the lights in our house went out.

"The sky just went completely orange and there was a ball of flames."

Annette Brooke-Taylor told how she was at a service station near Stansted when she saw the plane explode.

"There was a big explosion and huge flames in the sky. It was a sort of mushroom shape. An incredible sight. It lit up the sky.

"There was a tremendous noise. There were lots of flaming particles in the sky and then it went very quiet and then we realised something terrible had happened."

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See also:
22 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Korean Air's safety record
23 Dec 99 |  World
Boeing's workhorse
22 Dec 99 |  UK
Stansted flying high

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