Gander, NF Charter Jet Crashes, Dec 1985
CRASH KILLS SERVICEMEN -- 258 DEAD.
Gander, Newfoundland (AP) -- A DC-8 charter carrying U.S. servicemen from the Middle East in time for Christmas crashed in flames todayon takeoff at Gander International Airport, killing all 258 people aboard officials and witnesses said.
MAJ. KENNETH MILLER of Canadian Search and Rescue reported in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Halifax, Nova Scotia, that 250 passengers and eight crewmembers were killed in the crash.
"All we know is that there were no survivors," MILLER told the Canadian Press. He said his information came from the Gander control center.
The plane was carrying members of the 101st Airborne Division assigned to the Sinai peacekeeping force since July back to Fort Campbell, Ky., where the unite is headquartered, the Pentagon said.
They were some of 750 to 800 soldiers in the force and were returning home on a rotational basis, according to Maj. LARRY ICENOGLE, a Pentagon spokesman. He said a first group of 250 soldiers arrived at Fort Campbell on Dec. 5. The plane that crashed was carrying the second group.
CBC radio said its radio correspondent at the scene, ED PIKE, quoted witnesses as saying the plane exploded, lighting up the sky.
"We were driving to work .. when we saw this big explosion .. kind of like a big explosion right at the top of the trees ... and it died down very quickly. In a matter of seconds, it was gone," said ANN HURLEY, a nearby resident.
Canadian Transport Minister DON MAZANKOWSKI said the plane got no higher than 1,000 feet into the air before crashing and confirmed reports from the scene that there were no survivors.
A Pentagon source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he knew of no explosion. "We have no reason to suspect sabotage. We know only that this plane crashed and burned. The matter is being investigated by civilian authorities."
The airport was overcast with light snow and light winds at the time of the crash, according to the aviation weather report. There had been light, freezing drizzle a few hours earlier.
DAVID BRIDGES, spokesman for the Rome-based Multinational Force and Observers, said the plane had flown from Cairo to Cologne, West Germany, where it refueled, to Gander for a second refueling.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman VEDDER STEED in Atlanta, Ga., said the plane belonged to Arrow Air, a Miami-based charter firm.
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