SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept 30 (Reuters) - The fiery crash-landing of a small jet at the Santa Monica, California, airport killed all aboard, though the number of victims has yet to be determined, airport and federal safety officials said on Monday.
The twin-engine Cessna Citation swerved off the right side of the runway on landing at Santa Monica Municipal Airport at about 6:20 p.m. local time on Sunday, slammed into a hangar and burst into flames, airport manager Stelios Makrides said.
The hangar structure collapsed around the plane, and investigators have not been able to reach the aircraft to determine how many people were on board, Makrides said. He said it was not known whether anyone was inside the hangar just before the crash.
The plane had departed from Hailey, Idaho, according to Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration. The Cessna Citation family of jets has a seating capacity for between five and nine people.
An investigation team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene on Sunday night, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. Makrides said the NTSB returned to the crash site on Monday morning to resume its probe.
Makrides and Holloway both said there were no signs of survivors. Captain John Nevandro of the Santa Monica Fire Department said it was “an unsurvivable crash.”
Makrides said something occurred as the plane touched down that made it veer to the right, but that the cause was under investigation.
Witness Charles Thomson told local television station and CNN affiliate KCAL-TV that a tire on the plane’s landing gear appeared to burst as it touched down.
“It wasn’t an emergency landing,” Thomson said. It was just a landing, and the tire popped afterwards.”
News pictures taken shortly after the crash showed billowing black smoke curling up over aircraft at the airport, which serves communities west of downtown Los Angeles. Subsequent images showed the tail of an aircraft protruding from the partly collapsed hangar, flanked by fire trucks. (Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)