A sound like thunder, then the DC-8 hit the streets of Miami

A DC-8 cargo plane crashed shortly after take-off from Miami airport yesterday and burst into flames in a warehouse district of the city, hitting a light industrial building and cutting power in the immediate district.

Three crew and a security guard were on board the aircraft which belonged to Fine Air. There were no reports of casualties, but the intensity of smoke and flames suggested that there were unlikely to be survivors.

The crash is the second air disaster in US territory in a week. On Monday a Korean Air jumbo jet crashed into a hillside while attempting to land on the Pacific island of Guam. The plane, filled with mainly Korean holiday- makers, came down in a rainstorm at a time when some of the airport's navigation system was out of action and had been for a month.

Eyewitnesses in Miami spoke of the aircraft appearing to go "straight up almost like a missile" shortly before the crash; others described how it narrowly missed their office buildings and cars as it fell to the ground, saying that it was "like a whole plane on fire".

"He couldn't handle it, and I guess it went straight on down. We all witnessed it go down and explode," said James Moralez of the fire-rescue department, who saw the crash.

Local residents said the area, which includes a major road and a post office, was usually busy in the middle of the day when the plane went down, and said it would be miraculous if no one on the ground was killed.

One man, who said he was only half a block away at the time of the crash, said the falling plane had "made a sound like roaring thunder", but that the main force of the impact had been on a parking area, next to the building that was hit. It was not immediately clear how badly the buildings were damaged but it appeared they were still standing.

One witness said that he had seen one of the right-hand engines of the plane on fire shortly before the crash.

Fine Air, which was formed eight years ago, was described as an "established" company specialising in transporting freight in the southern US and Caribbean region. The crashed aircraft was on a flight to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

A spokesman for the US Air Freight Association described the DC-8 as the "workhorse of the US cargo fleet". It is a former passenger plane that was converted to cargo use with the arrival of the jumbo jet. Hundreds of them are in service across the country. Another specialist said the DC-8s were mostly 30 years old, but that with proper maintenance its age should not be a problem.

US investigators in Washington were yesterday examining the black boxes to try to establish the cause of the crash. The initially favoured explanation was pilot error.

Among the causes suggested for yesterday's crash included a flock of birds in an engine, a miscalculation of the thrust needed for take-off in the very specific conditions of heat and air pressure at Miami, or misloaded cargo.

There is no indication that maintenance or airport standards played any role in either crash. However, standards of inspection and compliance at US airports have come in for severe criticism in recent months, most notably from a former inspector, Mary Schiavo, whose book on the subject caused a furore when it appeared earlier this year.

In Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board said a team of investigators was being sent to the site.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past