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Cargo plane crashes, 5 injured


Firefighters look over the wreckage of a World War II-era DC-3 cargo plane that crashed and burned after takeoff on Monday near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fla. The three men aboard the plane and two on the ground were hurt. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Firefighters look over the wreckage of a World War II-era DC-3 cargo plane that crashed and burned after takeoff on Monday near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fla. The three men aboard the plane and two on the ground were hurt. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A World War II-era cargo plane crashed and burned Monday in the middle of a street in a residential neighborhood, authorities said. All three people on board survived.

The three, though hospitalized, were “sitting up and talking on their cell phones” hours after the crash, hospital spokeswoman Maria Soldani said. Two people on the ground were also hurt, one seriously.

The DC-3 cargo flight en route to the Bahamas crashed about three miles east of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport shortly after takeoff, said Greg Martin, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The co-pilot told firefighters a fuel line broke and one of the plane’s two engines was in flames before the crash, said Stephen McInerny, assistant chief of operations for Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

Pilot Charles Riggs, co-pilot Charles Wirt and passenger Hector Espinoza were in fair condition at Holy Cross Hospital. The two people injured on the ground were also hospitalized, including one in serious condition, McInerny said.

Espinoza told emergency room personnel that “he jumped from the cockpit and landed on the concrete,” physician Seth Marquit said.

Some residents were evacuated and the Red Cross offered shelter for the night.

Jay Huber said he was in his backyard when he heard a “terrible engine noise. … This plane was just pancaking, nose up, engines going like hell, like it was trying to stay up, and it was only about 150 feet in air.”

Another witness, Mark Davis, said he watched from about a block away as the plane roared overhead, its wings clipping the treetops.

DC-3s are regarded as cheap, reliable aircraft capable of taking off from short runways.

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