Aug 14, 2013 7:12 AM
A large UPS cargo plane crashed early Wednesday morning near the airport in Birmingham, Ala., killing the pilot and co-pilot, said city Mayor William Bell.
The two were the only people killed or injured in the fiery crash, Bell said. Neighborhoods in a half-mile radius of the site were evacuated, he said.
Flight 1354 crashed shortly after 6 a.m. at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The Airbus A306 from Louisville, Ky., crashed while making an approach to the airport, according to UPS.
The crash caused at least two explosions and strewed debris across a long path. The plane crashed about 900 yards from the airport in an open field. Police said no homes were affected by the crash.
"This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols said in a statement. "We place the utmost value on the safety of our employees, our customers, and the public. We will immediately engage with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation, and we will work exhaustively on response efforts."
The NTSB will be in charge of investigating the crash, the company said in the statement.
There was no unusual weather before the crash, and it was unknown if there were any mechanical issues, Bell said.
"It's my understanding the only individuals involved were pilot and co-pilot," Bell said.
While no structures were hit by the plane, Alabama Power reported that 76 customers were without power after the aircraft came into contact with power lines.
"The cockpit area was severed from the rest of the plane," says Gaynell Hendricks, chairperson of the Birmingham Airport Authority. "It's a grim site."
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was launching a full response team to the site of the crash in Birmingham, with the first investigator expected to reach the area around 10 a.m.
That team would work to recover black box recording devices from the scene of the crash, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said at a press conference on Wednesday morning. The full team was expected to arrive around 11 a.m. Birmingham time.
The airport had normal flight operations at 8 a.m. local time, according to its official Twitter account.