EAST HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Four bodies have been recovered, after a small plane crashed in East Haven, Conn. – leaving two houses in flames.
The bodies — two from the plane and two from one of the two houses it struck — were pulled from the site Friday shortly before midnight, said Anthony Moscato, deputy chief of the East Haven Fire Department. He said they are believed to be the only victims.
Hours after the crash, the wreckage was so substantial that rescue crews could not get into the homes to search for victims. Four bodies had been recovered as of Saturday morning.
By Saturday afternoon the NTSB had completed the recovery of the aircraft. Crews spent the day on Saturday cleaning up the accident scene, restoring power to the neighborhood, and moving residents back into their homes.
The two homes damaged in the crash were scheduled to be demolished early next week. The plane was removed and taken to a secure location.
Initial indications suggest that the plane was inverted when it struck the house. A preliminary report on the accident was expected in ten days, but a final report was expected to take a year to compile due to lengthy lab work and other factors, according to the NTSB.
As Kate Rayner of WFSB-TV, Hartford, reported, neighbors remained shocked hours later the multi-engine, propeller-driven plane struck two small homes a few blocks from Tweed New Haven Airport on Friday.
“When I bought this house they said it would never happen, and it happened,” a neighbor said.
On Friday night, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Gretz said that there were casualty reports of two or three people in the plane and two or three on the ground.
“Part of the plane is in the basement and part of the house is obviously in the basement, too, so as I speak to you the state police are working with the fire department to find all the victims,” Gretz said.
It could take days for investigators to examine the crash site. Neighbors said they could not believe such a thing happened at all.
“Boom, boom, boom like a real loud bomb,” said witness Nelson Rivera.
Among the presumed dead were two girls – ages 1 and 13. The body of the baby was found in the debris.
Officials said the single mother of the children was in front of the home when the plane went down, while the children were in the back. Neighbors said the mother came outside and was screaming.
They said the family just moved in.
The plane’s fuselage entered one of the houses and the recovery effort was focusing on the home’s basement, Gov. Dannel Malloy said earlier Friday.
“Understand that this is a disaster site,” Malloy said. “There’s a lot of damage, a lot of fire damage and a fair amount of water that’s probably now about thigh deep in the basement.”
A nearby resident told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall that planes fly over the homes near Tweed Airport every five minutes, and they are low.
“They are very loud, and you say to yourself, ‘Please stay up there, stay up there,’” the man said. “It’s scary sometimes. It is.”