A small plane crashed into a high-rise on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, raining down debris on the neighborhood and shooting giant flames out the windows, police said.
Christine Monaco, a New York spokeswoman for FBI, said there was no indication of terrorism in the crash, but that officials "have been sent to the scene as a routine." FAA spokesman Jim Peters said all three New York City-area airports are operating normally.
"The initial indication is that there is a terrible accident," said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke.
The aircraft struck the 20th floor of a building on East 72nd Street, said Fire Department spokeswoman Emily Rahimi. Witnesses said the crash caused a loud noise, and flames were seen shooting out of the windows.
"It's a mob scene with police and helicopters circling," said Sandy Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. "There's a dozen ambulances and lots of firemen waiting on 72nd, on the corner. There's lots of stretchers ready, gurneys. And lots of emergency people waiting."
The crash struck fear in a city devastated by the attacks of Sept. 11 five years ago. Witnesses said sirens echoed across the east side of Manhattan as emergency workers rushed to the scene. The crash triggered a loud bang. Broken glass and debris was strewn around the neighborhood.
"There's a sense of helpnessness," Teller said. "Cots and gurneys, waiting. It's a mess."
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was too early to determine what type of aircraft was involved, or what might have caused the crash in the middle of a hazy October afternoon.
Witness Sarah Steiner, who lives one block away, told CNN that "The fire was raging out of two windows on approximately the 30th floor. ... They are evacuating the building."
The address of the building is 524 E. 72nd Street - a 50-story condominium tower built in the late 1980s and located near Sotheby's Auction House. The Belaire Condo, developed by William Zeckendorf Jr., has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.
Several lower floors of the building are occupied by doctors and administrative offices, as well as guest facilities for family members of patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Fisher said. No patients were in the high-rise building and operations at the hospital a block away weren't affected, Fisher said. The Hospital for Special Surgery specializes in orthopedic operations.
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There is no indication of terrorism in the crash, but officials 'have been sent to the scene as a routine.'
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