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Two more bodies found in apartments hit by plane

FBI, NTSB investigating crash that killed four

Police and firefighters gather outside the apartment building hit by a small plane Friday.
Police and firefighters gather outside the apartment building hit by a small plane Friday.

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A small plane crashed into an apartment building in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles setting the building ablaze (June 6)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Two more bodies were found Saturday in the wreckage of the apartment building that was set afire Friday when a small plane dove into the three-story structure, the Los Angeles Coroner's Office reported.

The findings raised the death toll to four.

Three of the dead were from inside the plane, but it was not known whether they were passengers or crew, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells. The fourth victim was on the ground when the plane hit.

The genders of the bodies were not immediately determined.

Amateur video captured the Beech 36's dive into the 14-unit Sharon Apartments on Friday afternoon. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were trying to determine what caused the plane to fall straight down into the building.

In addition to looking at the environment, "we will also take a look at pilot qualifications," Tealeye Cornejo, an NTSB air safety investigator, said. "It will take us about nine months to complete a report and issue a probable cause."

Cornejo said the Federal Aviation Administration told her the pilot, who has not been identified publicly, had given no indication to flight controllers that he was having any problems.

A body believed to belong to the plane's pilot was found Friday, along with another found buried under debris on the second floor of the apartment building, fire officials said.

Three people remained hospitalized Saturday. One man with burns covering 18 percent of his body was at Grossman Burn Center, where a spokeswoman said Saturday that he would receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment, dressing changes and psychological counseling before undergoing surgery Monday.

Another two victims -- both men -- were being treated at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, a spokeswoman said.

The plane took off Friday from the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, about 10 miles southwest of the crash site, at 3:45 p.m. [6:45 p.m. EDT], officials said.

Seven minutes later, the Santa Monica control tower handed off the pilot to controllers at a regional air traffic control center, but the pilot never communicated with the center, officials said. The plane crashed into the building at 3:55 p.m.

The pilot did not file a flight plan, but he had told Hawthorne Flight Services that he was headed to Sun Valley, Idaho, one official said.

Police officials said there was no evidence that the crash was anything other than an accident, but as a precaution, they were treating the area as a crime scene.

The neighborhood where the crash occurred, just south of West Hollywood, is predominantly Orthodox Jewish.

Cheryl Mimura, spokeswoman for the FBI field office in Los Angeles, said FBI agents were at the scene assisting local police but "there is absolutely no intelligence to suggest this is a terror-related incident.

"However, we can't completely rule it out," she said. "The FBI will investigate to determine the cause of the crash."

The building had a parking garage on the first floor and apartments on its two upper floors. The plane entered the structure's top floor and burrowed through to the bottom floor, setting all three afire.

-- CNN assignment editor Stella Chan contributed to this report.


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