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Probe as two die in US air crash

A probe is under way after a UPS cargo plane crashed into a field near a US airport, killing two pilots and scattering wreckage over a rural area.

People living near the airfield in Birmingham, Alabama, reported seeing flames coming from the massive A300 jet that was coming in at treetop level and hearing its engines struggle in the final moments before impact.

"It was on fire before it hit," said Jerome Sanders, who lives directly across from the runway.

The plane, which had departed from Louisville, Kentucky, went down about half a mile from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport. It broke into several pieces and caught fire. The pilot and co-pilot were the only people aboard.

Toni Herrera-Bast, a spokeswoman for the city's airport authority, said the crash did not affect airport operations, but knocked down power lines and appeared to topple at least one tree and utility pole.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of investigators to the scene.

A preliminary investigation indicated the pilots did not make any distress calls, board member Robert L Sumwalt said.

Investigators are waiting to retrieve the cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders because the tail of the aircraft was still smouldering, he said.

UPS spokesman Jeff Wafford said the jet was carrying a variety of cargo.

The pilots' names were not immediately released but a man who identified himself as a family member said one of the pilots was Shanda Fanning, a woman in her mid-30s from Tennessee.


From Belfast Telegraph