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Europe

Plane Crash Was an Accident

US investigators have ruled out foul play in the plane crash in New York on Monday which killed up to 269 people.

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A large piece of debris believed to be an engine from the American Airlines plane

Initial information from the cockpit voice recorder found in the wreckage of the American Airlines plane that crashed in New York on Monday indicate that the crash was an accident and not sabotage.

Up to 269 people died in Monday's plane crash in a residential area in the borough of Queens in New York. Of those killed, 251 were passengers and nine were crew on board the plane, while nine people are missing on the ground.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman George Black said, "there was nothing on the tape that would lead us to believe that it was anything other than an aviation accident" , quashing speculation hijackers might have been on board in a repeat of the Sept. 11 aerial attacks on America.

Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America" show, Black said there were no unknown voices in the cockpit before Flight 587 crashed, just two minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

The plane crashed about two minutes after taking off at 9:14 a.m. (1414 GMT) from JFK. Eyewitnesses said they saw debris falling from the aircraft before it nosedived in a residential neighborhood in Rockaway, on a barrier island between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

New York Gov. George Pataki told reporters the pilot was believed to have dumped fuel just before the crash, indicating he knew the plane was in serious trouble.

Wreckage was scattered over a wide area, including parts of the bay, where a large section of the plane's tail was pulled from the water late on Monday.

Large Scale Destruction

Hundreds of firefighters and police converged on the middle-class suburb, cordoning off a 10-block area to search for survivors among the charred pieces of wreckage.

265 bodies had been recovered. Police were asking family members for DNA samples to help in the identification process.

About a dozen houses were damaged or totally destroyed by the crashed plane. Many of them caught fire, sending flames and smoke billowing from the neighborhood.

Clothes, broken suitcases and other debris hung from burning trees.

Hospital officials are treating about 60 people injured on the ground, including about 40 firefighters and police officers, for smoke inhalation.

The neighborhood was home to scores of firefighters and office workers killed in the World Trade Center collapse.

American Airlines issued a partial passenger list early on Tuesday which indicated that almost all those on board were from the United States or the Dominican Republic.

Shocked and grieving members of New York's Dominican community held a candlelight vigil to mourn the dead.