Fiery plane crash kills 7
A large cargo jet crashed off the end of a runway at the Halifax airport early Thursday, killing all seven people on board.
The MK Airlines jet, loaded with general freight and seafood, crashed as it was taking off around 3:50 a.m. It's lying in pieces in a wooded area near the runway.
"We can confirm that all seven on board have passed away,'' said RCMP Const. Joe Taplin.
Emergency officials have recovered some remains of the crew members, who were from Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The Boeing 747 arrived in Halifax from Connecticut to pick up a load of seafood and refuel before heading to Zaragosa, Spain.
Eyewitnesses reported hearing an explosion. One person said he saw two bright flashes in the night sky, which turned the sky bright orange.
"MK rolled by," said Mark Lush, "then I saw a flash."
Early reports suggest the plane's tail hit the runway during takeoff.
"The aircraft basically didn't take off. She continued her rotation and ran off the runway and ran into woods," said Steve Anderson, a spokesperson for MK Airlines.
The jet clipped off the top of trees and telephone polls before smashing into brush, landing next to a quarry.
The plane's tail is in a field at the end of the runway. A large piece of the charred fuselage is lying about one kilometre away, at the end of a large swath cut through the woods.
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Twenty fire crews, including 60 firefighters, spent the morning trying to put out fires.
The RCMP is leading the investigation until criminal involvement has been ruled out. That's the same protocol that emergency workers in the province followed after Swissair's Flight 111 crashed off Peggy's Cove in 1998.
Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board are surveying the scene to determine what happened. They have yet to find the plane's data recorders.
MK Airlines has been flying out of the Halifax airport regularly for the past 18 months. There was no rain and some cloud cover at the time of the crash.
Anderson says there was no history of trouble with the 20-year-old aircraft and the flight crew was experienced. A loadmaster and spare crew were also on board.
The crash led to flight delays and cancellations. By 7:30 a.m., the airport was operating on a limited basis with one runway open.