plane crashed into a 50-story skyscraper in New York City at the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
CBS News television quoted a law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying 34-year-old Lidle, an avid pilot who got his flying license after last year’s offseason, was aboard the single-engine aircraft when it slammed into the 20th floor of the high-rise on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said both people aboard were killed. It came as a shock for the New York Yankees, a Major League Baseball team.
"Our prayers go out to their families," Bloomberg said. Several sources claimed Lidle was at the controls of the plane when it crashed. The White House was initially closely monitoring the situation and fighter jets were reportedly briefly scrambled amid fears of a possible terror attack, but FBI and Homeland Security officials soon pointed out an accident had occurred.
”The initial indication is that there is a terrible accident,” Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said.
The crash at the building known as Belaire overlooking the East River struck fear in a city still recalling the attacks of September 11 five years ago. Residents were seen fleeing the area. Sirens echoed across the neighborhood as emergency workers and ambulances rushed in with stretchers. Broken glass and debris were strewn around the neighborhood, eyewitnesses said.
”There’s a sense of helplessness,” said Sandy Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. ”Cots and gurneys, waiting. It’s a mess," The Associated Press news agency quoted Teller as saying.
Flames shot from the windows on two upper floors of building on East 72nd Street, about five miles (eight kilometers) from the World Trade Center. A pillar of black smoke rose over the city, and burning debris fell as firefighters shot water streams of water at the flames from the floors below. The blaze was extinguished in less than an hour.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was too early to determine what might have caused the crash in the middle of a hazy, overcast October afternoon, but experts said they did not believe weather played a role in the crash.
The address of the building is 524 E. 72nd Street — a 50-story condominium tower called the Belaire Condo, which was built in the late 1980s and located near Sotheby’s Auction House. The Belaire Condo, developed by William Zeckendorf Jr., has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.
All three New York City-area airports continued to operate normally, Federal Aviation Administration Spokesman Jim Peters said. And the Homeland Security spokesman said, ”There is no specific or credible intelligence suggesting a threat to the homeland at this time.”