Small plane crashes into Tokyo homes
A small plane has crashed into a quiet area in Tokyo, killing the pilot, a passenger and a woman on the ground, while three people were pulled alive from the wreckage.
The single-engine propeller plane ploughed into and set ablaze a row of houses just minutes after take off from an airport used by small aircraft about 500 yards away in Tokyo's western suburb of Chofu.
Television footage showed a mangled plane, broken up with its tail upside down, resting on a crushed car as dozens of firefighters battled the blaze and treated the victims.
The roofs of the two houses next to the site were also damaged.
Tokyo Fire Department spokesman Teruaki Seki said the dead included the pilot, one of the four passengers and a woman who was inside the house where the plane crashed into, setting it ablaze. Five others, including the three remaining passengers and two people on the ground, were taken to hospital, but their conditions were not immediately known.
The plane was operated by a private company for aviation training and other activity, not for commercial air travel, said Hideaki Kobayashi, the Tokyo metropolitan government official in charge of the Chofu Airport.
Police are investigating the cause of the crash.
Minako Akiyama, a resident in the neighborhood, said that after the crash, she heard the loud sound of something being torn. "I ran upstairs, then I saw the house just over there on fire, with a tail of the plane sticking out of it," she said.