Missouri governor killed in plane crash

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The Independent US

Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan was killed when a plane piloted by his son crashed in fog and rain south of St Louis as they headed for a US senate campaign rally.

Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan was killed when a plane piloted by his son crashed in fog and rain south of St Louis as they headed for a US senate campaign rally.

There were no survivors, the governor's spokesman, Jerry Nachtigal, said early onTuesday.

He said the plane was believed to be carrying Carnahan, his son Roger and the governor's campaign adviser Chris Sifford. The three had been en route Monday evening to a rally for Carnahan's U.S. Senate campaign when the plane went down about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of St. Louis in a hilly, wooded area.

Sifford's cousin, Frank Sifford, a Stoddard County commissioner, said the family was told all three men had perished and that Roger Carnahan was flying the plane.

"I hope everyone in Missouri will put the Carnahan family and the Sifford family in their prayers," Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson said. He said he had accepted the role of acting governor.

Carnahan, 66, a popular Democratic governor finishing his second term, was running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican John Ashcroft. Their race had been one of the closest and most bitterly contested in the nation this year. Democrats were hoping to win the seat in their bid to regain control of the Senate.

Ashcroft's campaign immediately suspended all campaign advertising "out of respect for Governor Carnahan and his family," Ashcroft campaign manager David Ayres said.

Police said Lambert Airport in St. Louis was tracking the plane, which took off about 7 p.m. from a small airport near St. Louis. The plane disappeared from radar at 7:33 p.m.

Carnahan had been expected at the campaign rally at 8 p.m. in New Madrid, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of the crash site.

Officials said the plane went down in an area thick with trees, scattered farm houses and fields, and there was a light rain and heavy fog.

"We found wreckage in very small pieces spread over a large area. We have found some remains we cannot identify at this point," said Capt. Ed Kemp of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. He said it was unclear if the remains were those of one or more people.

President Bill Clinton called Carnahan's wife, Jean, from Egypt where he was meeting with Mideast leaders to express his condolences.

Catherine Hanaway, Missouri coordinator for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said discussions were under way about whether Tuesday's final presidential debate between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, in St. Louis, should be postponed or canceled.

Carnahan won his first public election at age 26 as a municipal judge in his hometown of Rolla. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives two years later and served two terms, and later served as state treasurer.

In 1988, Carnahan was elected lieutenant governor. In 1992, he won the governor's office in a landslide, and he won a second term in 1996.

He and his wife had four children.

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