American Reporter Staff
November 13, 2001
NOVEMBER 13, 2001 -- An Airbus A-300 widebody passenger jet broke apart in mid-air shortly after takeoff Monday en route to the Dominican Republic and slammed into the small residential community of Far Rockaways in the borough of Queens, an area of New York City already devastated by the loss of some 750 residents in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Authorities reported that 265 people, including 255 passengers and crew and five infants in their parents' laps, along with at least five people on the ground were killed.
The jet crashed about 144 seconds after takeoff, and recovered flight data and cockpit voice recorders could provide little reason why. Although terrorism is not suspected in the crash, it was clear that the unique destruction of the plane by the sudden and catastrophic loss of engines and wing parts will baffle investigators for some time to come.
It was a harsh blow to the nation's largest airline, already battered by the loss of American Airlines Flight 11 that slammed into the World Trade Center's north tower on Sept. 11 after it was hijacked by Middle East terrorists and used as a weapon of mass destruction against the people of New York City.
A second American Airlines flight, also with passengers aboard, crashed into the Pentagon shortly after the fuirst loss; both planes were Boeing 767s.
Firemen sped to the scene and quickly put out the fires started on the ground. Stunned residents told reporters and National Transportation Safety Board investigators they had seen one engine drop to the ground - narrowly missing the fuel pumps when it landed in a gas station - and a part of the wing fall off before the crash, which they said cast huge pall of black smoke over the seaside Rockaways on an exceptionally clear and beautiful New York morning.
Notified of the crash, President George W. Bush offered condolences to the families and urged New Yorkers to remain strong in the face of the many adversities they have faced with such courage in recent weeks.