More than 100 United States servicemen and their families had a miraculous escape when the aircraft taking them to South East Asia crashed on take-off and burst into flames on Friday (November 27).
GV Blazing wreckage (7 shots)
GV Numerous small fires.
Rescuers around cockpit in protective clothing
SV Rescue workers clamber over wreckage
GV Rescue workers work.
Initials BB/BOB/BB/0017 BB/BOB/BB/0038
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: More than 100 United States servicemen and their families had a miraculous escape when the aircraft taking them to South East Asia crashed on take-off and burst into flames on Friday (November 27). The death toll, however, was 47. The aircraft was leaving Anchorage Airport in Alaska when the accident happened.
A team of United States investigators immediately set to work in a bid to discover the cause of the crash. The airliner, a "stretched" version of the DC-8, on charter from Capitol International Airlines, had stopped over in Anchorage for refuelling.
The aircraft was en route to Vietnam from McCord Air Base in Washington State. More than 70 people are still in hospital, many of them suffering from severe burns. One of the dead was Swedish stewardess, Birgitta Ekuland. there were 229 people on board.
Charred and twisted wreckage was strewn all over the airport. The aircraft had been taking off in freezing rain--though visibility was good--when the accident happened. It appeared that the aircraft had achieved too great a ground speed to stop but not enough for it to become safely airborne.
The aircraft lumbered into the air, but plummeted back to earth. There was an explosion and then flames enveloped the smashed airliner.
Many of those on board jumped clear. Eye witnesses report that they saw servicemen who had leapt to safety go back into the wreckage to save those left behind. There were many acts of "heroism" according to eye witnesses.
Survivors included the crew with the exception of the dead stewardess. Fire fighters and rescue teams were quickly at the scene, but there was little they could do except control the savage flames.