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5 dead, 1 injured in Long Beach plane crash [Updated]

March 16, 2011 | 11:56 am

Five of six people aboard a small plane that crashed Wednesday near Long Beach Airport were confirmed dead, and one was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, authorities said.

A twin-engine Beechcraft King Air plane ignited in a ball of flames on departure from the airport around 10:30 a.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane, which is owned by a Los Angeles-based corporation, was headed to Salt Lake City. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Steve Yamamoto said six people were aboard the plane when it crashed and five were declared dead at the scene. The sixth person was taken to a hospital, suffering from unspecified injuries.

[Updated at 12:18 p.m.: "We are deeply saddened by this event," Airport Director Mario Rodriguez told reporters at the scene. "This is the last thing any airport director wants to see."

The twin-engine turbo prop plane had just taken off and was circling to return to the airport when it crashed just after 10:30 a.m.

Long Beach Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Reeb said firefighters arrived on scene to find the plane on fire and a fireball spewing from the wreckage. They found six occupants inside.

The airport has shut down two of five runways, but all commercial flights are scheduled to fly out normally.]


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Photo: An official stands near the wreckage of a Beechcraft King Air plane that crashed on departure from Long Beach Airport on Wednesday. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times