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6 feared dead as military planes collide at Dallas airshow

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 6 feared dead as military planes collide at Dallas airshow

Two historical military planes collided and crashed to the ground Saturday during a Dallas airshow, federal officials said, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky.

Officials didn’t immediately make clear how many people were on board the aircraft or if anyone on the ground was hurt. Nonetheless, an ABC News producer – citing reporting from a colleague – said on Twitter that at least six people, all crew members, were feared dead after the crash.

Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.

“I just stood there. I was in complete shock and disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the airshow with a friend. “Everybody around was gasping. Everybody was bursting into tears. Everybody was in shock.”

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Emergency crews raced to the crash scene at the Dallas Executive airport, about 10 miles from the city’s downtown.

Live news footage from the scene showed people setting up orange cones around the crumpled wreckage of a bomber, which was in a grassy area.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided and crashed at about 1.20pm, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The collision occurred during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show.

The B-17, an immense four-engine bomber, was a cornerstone of US air power during the second world war. The Kingcobra, a US fighter plane, was used mostly by Soviet forces during the war. Most B-17s were scrapped at the end of the second world war and only a handful remain today, largely featured at museums and airshows, according to Boeing.

Several videos posted on Twitter showed the fighter plane appearing to fly into the bomber, causing them to quickly crash to the ground and setting off a large ball of fire and smoke.

The Dallas mayor, Eric Johnson, said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had taken control of the crash scene, with local police and fire providing support.

“The videos are heartbreaking,” he said on Twitter.

Wings Over Dallas bills itself as “America’s premier world war II airshow”, according to a website advertising the event. The show was scheduled for 11-13 November, Veterans Day weekend, and guests were to see more than 40 second world war-era aircraft.

Hank Coates, president of the Commemorative Air Force, later told reporters that the families of crew members involved in the disaster – as well as witnesses – would be offered support, including emotional counseling. He declined to say exactly how many people were feared dead by officials, but he said the B-17 typically carried four to five crewmembers while the P-63 had a seat only for the pilot.

“Please … if you have it in your mind, express prayers and thoughts for the crews that were involved today, for the people that saw it, for the family members,” Coates said. “Obviously, this is a very challenging time for those families.”

The FAA and the NTSB were launching investigations. Preliminary reports may come out in the coming several days, but final findings may not be issued for more than a year.

 

(UK GUARDIAN)

 

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