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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 18:26 GMT
'Miracle' escape from plane crash
Crash scene
Fire broke out in both the car and plane
Four people have survived a "Christmas miracle" after a small airliner crashed into a car near Aberdeen Airport.

The plane had just taken off and was heading for Aalborg in Denmark.

It crashed on Wellheads Drive, a main thoroughfare in the Dyce area of Aberdeen, near the city's airport.

The cause of the crash is not yet known but one aviation expert said it may have been caused by "a suspected bird strike on take-off".

The plane - a 17-seater Fairchild Metroliner metro liner twin prop - had just taken off from Aberdeen Airport at 0800 GMT on Tuesday when it crashed.

Crash graphic

The pilot, 40-year-old Per Bakke and co-pilot Jakob Jensen, 23, were treated for cuts and bruises at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Two women who were driving separate cars when the aircraft crashed were checked by doctors and later discharged.

Both the plane and the car burst into flames soon after the crash.

Air investigation

The plane is owned by Northflying - a Danish airline which had contracted it to Ben Air for mail services.

Three fire fighting appliances went to the scene with other specialist units in support and an RAF helicopter was also scrambled.

The airport was later reopened but traffic in the area remained congested.

Jim Singer
Jim Singer: "Absolutely amazed"

Taxi driver Jim Singer, who was one of the first witnesses at the scene, said it was "a Christmas miracle" that no-one was seriously injured in the crash.

He said: "All I saw was this big ball of flame and black smoke starting to billow out from the crash which I presumed was two vehicles caught in car crash.

"Two ladies were standing at the end of the road and I asked them if they were okay. One of the ladies said she was fine and I phoned the fire brigade."

He said he was "absolutely amazed" the four people involved in the crash had survived.

'Not a scratch'

"The driver did not have a scratch and for the pilots to walk away from this is incredible, absolutely incredible. I think it's a Christmas miracle."

Aviation specialist Jim Ferguson said the four people involved in the crash had been very lucky.

He said: "Whether he (the pilot) actually bounced over the airport perimeter fence, we don't know.

"But he ended up in a field beside it and stopped against a car on one what is normally one of the busiest roads in the city at that time of the morning."

Crash scene
Investigators should be able to tell "a great deal"

Investigators would be able to tell "a great deal" from the wreckage, he added.

A spokeswoman for the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said an inquiry has been launched to establish the cause of the accident.

She said: "We are investigating the incident and we are sending an investigation team up to Aberdeen.

"I can confirm that it happened around 7.45 this morning and involved a Danish aircraft.

"But I can't say anything more than that before the inquiry gives its report."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's George Eykyn
"The crew told medical staff they's been very lucky"
  Jim Singer, taxi driver
"If people walked away from that, then it's a Christmas miracle"
  Jim Ferguson, aviation expert
"From the wreckage itself they can tell a great deal"
See also:

24 Dec 02 | Scotland
11 Dec 02 | Scotland
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