Drivers leaped out of their cars to help people out of a small plane that crashed near the Vancouver Airport, reports the CBC's Meera Bains
All nine people aboard a small plane heading to the British Columbia Interior were sent to hospital Thursday after it slammed onto a city street just outside Vancouver's International Airport.
Richmond RCMP reported late Thursday that the two crewmembers on the flight were in "very critical condition."
'Everything's good,' pilot said
Excerpts of radio communication between air traffic control and a pilot of Flight 204:
4:08 p.m. PT: Traffic controllers tell pilot of Flight 204 he's, "No. 1 for Runway 26," and ask to confirm if he "doesn't need equipment or help" on the runway. Pilot calmly responds, "Negative, everything's good here at the moment."
4:09 p.m.: Air traffic control clears pilot to land on Runway 26. Pilot calmly acknowledges with, "Cleared to land, 204."
4:11 p.m.: A loud burst of static is heard on the recording.
4:11 p.m.: Controller declares an aircraft has "pulled short" and "the runway is closed for the time being."
4:12 p.m.: Other aircraft are advised to "hold your position, we have an emergency."
Seven passengers and two other people who were travelling in a car hit by the plane were reported in serious condition.
Alyssa Polinsky, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health, said a pedestrian was also sent to hospital after being struck by a flying object. The person's condition was unknown.
"We have everything from burns to fractures and back injuries," Polinsky said late Thursday in an interview, adding she had no information on any of the victims' identities.
"We aren't expecting anyone else coming in."
The plane burst into flames shortly after it crashed while attempting to return to the airport. It landed near a street just outside its fences, snarling traffic at the peak of the city's afternoon rush.
Officials for the airport said the plane, a Beechcraft King Air 100, is operated by Northern Thunderbird Air, based in Prince George, B.C.
Witnesses rushed to help
The aircraft slammed onto the road and slid into the car before stopping, witness Steven Baran told CBC News.
Baran, who works for the post office at the airport, said no one in the car appeared to be hurt and his first instinct was to help the plane passengers.
He said he and other witnesses "made a beeline for the plane."
"The rear door was ajar and one of the fellows pulled it down," said Baran. "One after another, we just pulled passengers out real quick."
The flight took off at about 3:40 p.m. PT from Vancouver designated as Flight 204 and headed east on a 270-kilometre flight to Kelowna, B.C.
The plane turned around when the crew got the "indication of a problem" about 15 minutes after takeoff, said Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
The aircraft did not make it back to the airport, crashing on Russ Baker Way in Richmond, about 900 metres short of the runway.
An audio recording of the conversation between a pilot aboard the ill-fated flight and air traffic controllers, obtained by CBC News, shows the pilot declared an emergency on turning back to Vancouver, but was confident he could reach the airfield.
The air traffic controller asks the pilot to confirm whether he "doesn't need equipment or help" on the runway. The pilot calmly responds, "Negative, everything's good here at the moment."
Visibility was good with clear skies at the time of the crash, CBC meteorologist Claire Martin said.
All bridges leading to the airport were closed to allow swift access for emergency vehicles.