American Airlines Flight 587 bound from JFK to Santo Domingo with 247 passengers and 9 crew members aboard crashed on takeoff at approximately 9:17 AM EST. The plane crashed into a residential area of Far Rockaway, and at 10:15 AM EST twelve buildings were reported to be on fire. It struck near 130th Street and Newport Avenue. Four houses were destroyed and sixteen damaged.

The Rockaway area lost 170 residents in the World Trade Center castastrophe. Many members of the New York City uniformed services live in the area.

CIA officials said that they had no indication that terrorist activity was involved, but at 11:00AM EST, Admistration officials said that the FBI believes that there was an explosion on board the aircraft and the cause of this explosion is under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board has stated that initial indications suggest that it was an accident.

One witness reported seeing an engine fall from the plane shortly before the crash, and another reported seeing a bright flash at the root of the right wing, followed by the appearance of debris and the immediate crash of the plane. Witnesses in the neighborhood said that pieces fell from the plane as it crashed. A wing of the plane apparently broke off and hit a gas station. Another wing ended up in Jamaica Bay.

An AWACS aircraft was in the air over the Northeast at the time, and it’s information will help in the investigation. A so far unidentified helicopter was in the immediate area at the time of the crash.

The plane that crashed was an A-300 Airbus with an excellent safety record.

All New York City airports, bridges and tunnels were closed for approximately three hours following the crash, under new security procedures.

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