HOUSTON (AP) — A Boeing 767 cargo jetliner heading to Houston with three people aboard disintegrated after crashing last Saturday into a bay east of the city, according to a Texas sheriff.
Witnesses told emergency personnel that the twin-engine plane “went in nose first”, leaving a debris field three-quarters of a mile long in Trinity Bay, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said.
“It’s probably a crash that nobody would survive,” he said, referring to the scene as “total devastation”.
The cargo plane made a steep descent shortly before 12.45pm from 6,525 feet to 3,025 feet in 30 seconds, according to tracking data from FlightAware.com.
The flight was being operated for Amazon by Atlas Air, according to a statement from the airline. “Our main priority at this time is caring for those affected and we will ensure we do all we can to support them now and in the days and weeks to come,” Atlas Air said in a statement.
Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Amazon Dave Clark said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy. We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.”
Witnesses said they heard the plane’s engines surging and that the craft turned sharply before falling into a nosedive, Hawthorne said.
Aerial footage shows emergency personnel walking along a spit of marshland flecked by debris that extends into the water.
Hawthorne told the Houston Chronicle late Saturday afternoon that police had found human remains at the site of the crash.
Investigators have also recovered parts of the plane, he said. “There’s everything from cardboard boxes to women’s clothing and bed sheets,” Hawthorne said. The largest piece from the Boeing 767 that police have recovered is 50 feet long, Hawthorne told the newspaper.
The sheriff said recovering pieces of the plane and its black box containing flight data records will be difficult in muddy marshland that extends to about five feet deep in the area. Air boats are needed to access the area.