Crew die in jumbo crash at Stansted

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A MAJOR disaster was narrowly averted last night after a jumbo jet crashed close to Stansted airport, Essex, reportedly killing the three crew members.

There were reports of a massive explosion as the cargo plane came down near the village of Great Hallingbury, two miles from Bishop's Stortford and close to the M11. The plane was taking off en route to Malpensa, near Milan, Italy

Both the airport and the motorway were closed after the accident, and nearby villages reported a blackout, thought to be caused by the plane hitting powerlines.

"It was a Korean Airways 747 cargo plane with three crew members on board," a Stansted Airport spokeswoman said. "It departed at 18.40 local time and crashed shortly after take-off at the edge of Hatfield Forest."

An Essex Fire Brigade spokesman said 18 tenders were dealing with "numerous" fires on the ground.

Eyewitness Nick Relton said: "I saw a plane and then I looked again a couple of seconds later and thought `where's that plane gone?' and as I thought that there was a huge orange explosion, flames leaping probably 500ft to 600ft in the air."