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.

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

Special Needs Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: Special needs teachers required! Sh...

EBD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: EBD teachers re West Midlands

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor