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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Continental Express Plane Crashes Near Buffalo, New York; 48 Onboard; One Fatality On Ground
Aired February 13, 2009 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR, BREAKING NEWS: We're going to go to some breaking news that's come to us. We believe that a plane has crashed into a house in Clarence, Buffalo, New York.
A large commercial airliner with 50 to 60 seats. It's crashed into a house on Long Street, west of Goodrich. We're told everyone who was in the house got out safely. But that house is engulfed in flames. Fire crews have obviously arrived at the scene. There is no word on the fate of the pilot of the plane or anyone else may have been on board. But as we just reported, the plane had 50 to 60 seats.
So, just repeating that a plane has crashed into a house in Clarence/Buffalo, New York.
But let's have a listen to our CNN affiliate now.
(BEGIN AFFILIATE LIVE FEED)
JOSH BOOSE, REPORTER, WGRZ NEWS: It was just an announcement. They're going to give a briefing in a few moments. But that was the precursor to this news conference here they're going to give a briefing in the next couple of minutes to give us the very latest information. We're right here waiting. Hopefully I can bring that to you. I can just hold my phone up right here.
SCOTT LEVIN, WGRZ NEWS ANCHOR: OK, and if we can, Josh, if you can ask, if we can if there are any injured firemen? I'm getting some reports, not confirmed, that there - from a reliable source, though - that there might be an injured fireman as well. If you can ask that, we'd appreciate that?
BOOSE: Very good.
LEVIN: All right. Well, we're waiting until we get more information from Josh, let's go back over to Kevin O'Connell.
Kevin, for the folks that are joining us now, again, can you give us another rundown of what the weather may have been like at 10:15 or so when the plane went down?
KEVIN O'CONNELL, WGRZ NEWS, METEOROLOGIST: The site of the accident is five miles from the runway out at the Buffalo airport. There was a rain-snow combo happening. The wind speeds were approximately 10 to 15 miles per hour out of the west-southwest. And again, I simply want to reiterate that in no way am I indicating that weather had any role whatsoever in what happened tonight. Those were the conditions at the scene a little later this evening shortly after 10:00. So obviously it's going to be something that the experts are going to get to quickly take a look at as they review all of the procedures.
I want to give you a quick update while we're waiting for the press conference at Clarence Town Hall to begin. Here are the conditions in the next five days. We an see temperatures that are going to be very close to normal, which around 32 degrees for this time of the year. We're at 33 in Buffalo right now. Across the southern tier generally around that 33 degree mark.
(END AFFILIATE LIVE FEED)
COREN: As we just heard there, a large commercial airliner has crashed into a house in Buffalo, New York. There were 50 to 60 seats on that plane. We don't know the - we don't know whether the pilot survived, or if anybody else survived on that plane.
But we don't know that as far as conditions go, there was rain and snow. We don't know what caused the crash and we also don't know whoever onboard survived. We know that whoever was in the house managed to get out. There may have been reports that one firefighter, perhaps, was injured.
As we try to get somebody on the scene to speak to us, we can only tell you what we know, which is that a large commercial airplane has -- has crashed into a house on Long Street, west of Goodrich, in Buffalo, New York. It happened in conditions of rain and snow.
There was 50 to 60 seats on this commercial airline. We don't know the fate of the pilot or anybody else onboard. The first report of the crash was at about 10:20 p.m., local time. Currently, there are five crews on the scene and the area has been shut down. And I believe the area has also been -- people have been evacuated to a nearby hall.
But let's now cross to our affiliate, once again.
DAVE McKINLEY, REPORTER, WGZR NEWS: Internet program, Scott.
We are standing about 100 feet away from where the plane went down. It's really tough to see because the smoke continues to billow from the wreckage, which I can make out. We are, like I said, about 100 feet away from the wreck, that remains right where apparently a house was up until this crash occurred. What we can see when the smoke clears at times is just a blackened and charred wreckage scattered about where the fireman, and right near where the flashing lights are, that you may be able to see on your screen.
The smoke, like I say, continues to billow and at times it's kind of overpowering. I talked to several people here that described many of the same things that some of our viewers have described to you tonight. Hearing a horrific noise, explosions, and then coming out here and realizing something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. Again, this is about 100 feet away from where we can, at times, when the smoke clears, see charred wreckage of the plane.
LEVIN: Dave, would you consider that situation, that fire under control in any way, shape, or form?
McKINLEY: It's hard to tell, Scott, because the smoke continues to billow. It doesn't seem to be spreading. Earlier, when we first arrived on the scene, it appeared they were wetting down other buildings adjacent to homes and businesses nearby to the scene. I don't see them doing that anymore. It is just that that smoke, apparently, a lot of that wreckage may still be hot. As they pour water on it, maybe more of it comes up.
LEVIN: Dave, as we're looking at the picture. I hope you can see it also. Can you try and make out for our viewers exactly where the remnants of that plane might be? Is it right in the center of the screen? I'm not sure if that's another building or if that is part of the plane, right there that we're looking at?
McKINLEY: That would be right dead center there, where that smoke is coming up, absolutely, very thick right now. It may have been that the wind shifted or not. Our pictures that we provided you before, via Skype, were a bit upwind of the scene, and therefore we weren't experiencing the smoke. We're downwind from it now and you can definitely feel it, smell it, and it's not a pleasant scene at all.
LEVIN: All right, Dave, stay on the phone with us right now. We do have some more pictures that have come in here to us at Channel 2. Massive flames, there, this is of the plane crash in Clarence Center tonight. Incredible pictures. The men, the finest men, you know. When people come out of fires, they go in. They are heroes. They're there on the scene trying to rescue people and trying to get control of this scene. And firemen are doing what they do best. Obviously, some onlookers there, checking out those massive flames.
I'm being told from a rather reliable source, there was at least 5800 pounds of jet fuel onboard Continental Flight #3407, that Buffalo was its destination tonight.
We're going to take another look at a live picture, from Skype. This is a plane crash. Happened at 10:30 tonight, a Continental plane. There is a little dispute exactly how many people were on this plane. We do know, it has been confirmed, that it was Flight 3407, from Newark to Buffalo.
The home, we're being told from witnesses, that live right near there, is completely gone. There are some remnants, obviously, of the plane there. Several people have been taken to ECMC. Chris Collins, the area county executive is there on the scene.
It was a propeller plane, we're also being told.
And the producer is trying to tell me something else. Athen (ph), what were you saying?
OK, we're being told that a Dash 8 (ph) does fly that route. We don't know if that was this -was a Dash 8 plane or not, but the Dash 8 does fly, it's a propeller plane, and it does fly from Newark to Buffalo. Again, this happened a little after 10:00 tonight. The area, folks, where this happened is right near Clarence Center Coffee House. It's right near what they call Four Corners, it is Long Street. Goodrich, and Clarence Center. There is a little diner on the corner there, called Marty's, as well. So that's the area. And it did - we're being told, from witnesses - it was almost a direct hit on this home where a man and wife lived. We're told, from another witness on the phone, that possibly the mother and the daughter were out shopping. And we're told that at least one person was in the home this evening as well.
We're going back to whom now? OK. We have several reporters that are on the scene. They're gathering more and more information. We are looking at live footage via Skype. You can see there's still an awful lot of smoke in that area right now. We're going to go back to Kevin O'Connell, right now.
Kevin, you have some more information, right?
O'CONNELL: Yeah, over here in the Storm Center tonight, Scott , I was getting some information pertaining to the flight itself. And it was originally scheduled to arrive in Buffalo at 8:48 this evening. That would be Flight 3407, operated under the Continental Connection group, which is operated by Colgan Air. Originally it was scheduled for 8:48, but was running about two hours late. The actual time, the re-scheduled arrival was going to be 10:45 last evening at the Buffalo Airport.
So, again, just a little information in terms of the scheduled time, and obviously that had to be altered. The new time was running about two hours later, Scott, than originally had been anticipated. Checking with Continental Airlines, obviously, they're directing any inquiries to their people right now. But that is general information that we wanted to pass along to everybody. That it was running a little bit late this evening. It was supposed to get in here about a quarter to 9:00 and then the reschedule was about a quarter of 11:00.
LEVIN: All right, thank you very much, Kevin.
I have just received -- this is Congressman Chris Lee's district. I received and e-mail from him. He's trying to monitor the situation he says, in D.C. He's there right now. He's very concerned, obviously, about the passengers, crew, and residents and he is awaiting all of the details.
And let's go back now to Josh Boose, who is live at Town Hall, right now.
Josh, what did you learn?
BOOSE: Well, we're just waiting right now to hear from law enforcement officials, county officials, about exactly is going on, Scott. We're all kind of huddle around the door. As I mentioned, we're at the Clarence Town Hall, just waiting for the latest information. At this point, as I mentioned, I just spoke with Chris Cosner (ph) who he says his 24-year-old sister, Alise Cosner (ph), was onboard that flight, that Continental flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo.
He said he was on his way to the airport to pick somebody up - or to pick her up, rather. Sorry about my stumbling, I'm just waiting to see if we're going to get any of the latest information right now. It appears that there's some movement by the door. My guess is in the next few minutes, County Executive Chris Collins and local law enforcement leaders are going to come out here and talk to us and give us the latest information, as we're kind of waiting here.
But back to Chris Cosner (ph), I was talking to him. He said he was on his way to the airport to pick up his sister, 24-year-old Alise Cosner (ph) when he heard that there had been a plane crash. We're trying to find out the very latest information as far as what this means, how many people were involved? And how this rescue operation is going at this point, Scott?
LEVIN: All right, Josh. Thank you. We do have some more new information that I'm just learning right now. The FAA, is this confirmed, Athen (ph)? OK, the FAA is telling ECMC officials that there were 48 people onboard this plane. We have confirmed that there were 48 people - that's from the FAA - onboard. Two people with minor injuries, not on the plane, we're being told, transported to Suburban Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. They were not on the plane. Two people with minor injuries sent to Suburban Hospital.
Once again, this is Continental Flight 3407, that has gone down right in Clarence Center, into a home, that is no longer there. It was completely flattened say the eyewitnesses and we're looking at video of the scene right now.
Brendan is on the phone right now. I'm being told, Brendan, tell me exactly how far you are from the scene? And what did you hear and what did you see?
BRENDAN BIDDLEC, CLARENCE CENTER RESIDENT: Well, I'm -- half a mile away at most. I'm live on Maple and Elm street which is in the same, I guess you could call it, neighborhood there.
So, you know, from my standpoint, I was in the house at the time. I had just gotten my kids to sleep. Then I heard a buzzing sound coming over the house. Again, as everybody said, this is a regular flight pattern for planes coming in to land and to the airport. And then I could tell it didn't sound right. I could tell if it was a problem with the engine. You know the sound that you typically hear when the plane is approaching. I knew right away something was wrong. As soon as I got that sense, that something was up, not more than two seconds later, a large explosion sound. The foundation of the house just shook. And right away I knew that - what had happened. I didn't actually see it go down, but intuitively I knew that this had happened.
Brendan, about how high was it over your house?
(END AFFILIATE LIVE FEED)
COREN: We're just been watching live coverage of the plane crash in Buffalo, New York.
This is what we can tell you. That Continental Flight 3407, from Newark to Buffalo crashed at about 10:30 local time; 48 people were onboard. We do not know the fate of the pilot, the crew, or the passengers at this stage. We do know that two people on the ground were injured with minor injuries and they've been taken to the hospital.
A house was hit. The plane it hit a house. We believe, from our sources on the ground, that one person was inside that house. A mother and daughter were apparently away from that house. But our sources are telling that there was one person in that house.
Let's return to that live coverage.
(BEGIN AFFILIATE LIVE FEED)
LEVIN: ... seeing there, a massive flames there, from this plane crash. There's another picture that came in to us from the citizen photo, sent in to WGRZ.com. Here's another picture. Obviously an awful lot of onlookers at the scene. Josh Boose is at Town Hall there, in Clarence. He's on the phone right now with the latest there, Josh.
BOOSE: Yes, Scott, hi.
Just someone came out just about two minutes ago and said that they just need more information. Law enforcement officials, that is, they need more information - or they need to get the correct information, get everything together so there's not a miscommunication, when the information is released here in the next few minutes.
So we are just sitting here waiting to hear what the latest is. As you mentioned a few moments ago; the FAA is confirming 48 people were onboard the Continental flight and people not on the plane were taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. So, that's the latest information that we have, at least from the FAA. We're just waiting for local officials here. They're kind of coming in and out of one of the rooms here at Town Hall. We're just waiting for the latest, Scott.
LEVIN: Josh, what's it like there? Can you describe the scene? By the way, we're also hearing Continental is preparing a statement. Can you describe what it's like?
BOOSE: Just very chaotic at this point. Everybody is hooking all their cameras up, getting the microphones ready at this point, just to hear what the latest is. There's a lot of looked to be rescue personnel going in and out of the command center, if you will, where everyone is.
I know the Erie County Executive Chris Collins is in there, the spokesman, Grant Loomis (ph) just came out a few moments ago. My colleague Ron Plants just came up and is reporting that the medical examiner arrived as well. There's a team, Ron said, there's a team with the medical examiner has arrived, as well. And also Ron told me a few moments ago that the head of the special agent in charge of the FBI is here as well. So everyone is right here. We're just waiting for them to come out and give us the latest.
LEVIN: All right, Josh, once again, can you recap for the folks while we're waiting. I know it's chaotic there. What the FAA said that, I believe, 48 people were onboard the plane, correct?
BOOSE: That's right, Scott, yes, 48 people, that is according to the FAA. This flight, according to a gentleman that I spoke with, Chris Cosner (ph), his 24-year-old sister was onboard. He said this flight was coming from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo. In fact, he said he was getting ready to go pick up his sister up from the airport.
But, again, 48 people on this flight. That's according to the FAA. Two people were taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, that's according to the FAA. Two people taken to Suburban Hospital.
LEVIN: I'm getting unconfirmed reports that one might have been a fireman also. But that is unconfirmed right mow.
BOOSE: Unconfirmed, yes. We have no details on that. That's something we'll ask at the news conference in the next couple of minutes.
LEVIN: All right, Josh. Stay on the line.
Kevin, I know you've been working the Internet. You have more information on the plane, right, Kevin?
O'CONNELL: Yes, and I should also stress that any information that I'm giving anybody out there now has to be still confirmed by the people certainly on Continental Airlines. But they indicated to us that normally this flight, which is a daily flight from Newark to Buffalo, is usually accomplished using a Dash 8 Aircraft. This would be a De Havilland Canada DHC8-100/200. The Dash 8 is what it's called. This is a very popular regional turbo prop aircraft. In the late '70s it was put in to use. It features a high mounted wing and tail section.
But I find it a little bit interesting on the capacity part. It says that it has seating for 40, a flight crew of two. Again, we are getting numbers that, Continental is indicating, there were -what did you say before, 47?
LEVIN: Forty-eight people.
O'CONNELL: OK, 48 people.
LEVIN: That's from the FAA.
O'CONNELL: Yeah, so we might be dealing with a seating capacity of 40, plus the crew, and their may obviously be other people has hospital who were not on that flight. But, obviously, were there on the ground.
But I want to stress there is no indication that this was the aircraft that came in here tonight. But they normally do fly the Dash 8 in to Buffalo on this run, Scott, which, again, as we indicated a little bit earlier was scheduled to getting here at a quarter to 9:00 during the normal schedule. But they were running two hours behind schedule tonight. And they were -- updated schedule had it arriving at about 10:48 this evening. And obviously the accident happening shortly after 10 o'clock tonight.
LEVIN: All right, thank you very much, Kevin.
Again, it was flight number 3407 from Newark to Buffalo. That was the -- possibly that Dash-8 that Kevin O'Connell was just mentioning. Again, this plane has gone down right near Clarence Center on Long Street. These are pictures sent in to WGRZ.com. Citizen photos of the massive flames right after the crash. Josh Boose is on the phone again, in Town Hall - Josh.
BOOSE: Yes, Scott. Again, we're just waiting to hear the latest from emergency responders here. I want to reiterate a couple of things. The FAA is confirming that 48 people were on that flight. Two people were taken to Suburban Hospital.
I mentioned, I spoke with the gentleman, Chris Cosner (ph), who said he just came from soccer practice. He was on his way to go pick his sister up the airport; 24-year-old Alise Cosner (ph), lifelong resident of Clarence, currently in law school in Jacksonville. He said she was on that plane coming from Newark. She was actually in Newark on a (AUDIO GAP) over, and then came here, coming from Jacksonville -- coming from law school back to Buffalo.
I don't see him -- I haven't seen him in the last hour, or so. He had left. I don't know if he's in -- if he's in the control center, if you will, trying to find out the latest information, or even if there's a place for families to go. But we're just waiting here to get the latest.
LEVIN: Josh, tell the folks about that conversation you had with the county executive tonight?
BOOSE: Right, well, when I spoke with the county executive, it appeared he had just gotten here, likely just been briefed. There were very few people here as far as anyone from his staff. I've seen a couple of people from his staff, though, come within the last few moments. He confirmed that it was a Continental flight. He said there were people taken to the hospital. We now know Suburban -- Suburban Hospital, Millard Fillmore, in Williamsville. And one person, he said, was in the home at the time of the plane crash. At least one person was in the home. So that's what he said.
He also said there were 50 passengers. We now know, according to the FAA, that there were 48. So that's what we have. I have not seen the county executive since we last spoke with him. And this was about, I'm going to guess, 45 minutes, maybe an hour ago at this point. And we're still waiting to get the latest info.
LEVIN: Josh, are you hearing anything at all about those folks that were taken to Suburban Hospital?
BOOSE: Say that one more time, Scott. LEVIN: Are you hearing anything at all about the two folks taken to Suburban, that were not on the plane?
BOOSE: No, absolutely nothing. Everyone that is coming in here is going right to the command center room with the different law enforcement officials. We are hearing absolutely nothing. We are kind of in the hallway, if you will, just waiting - just waiting here.
And, again, they said they were going to have a statement, a news conference in a few moments. And then, about five minutes ago, they came out and said we need just a little more time. We want to get the right information out there, which, of course, we do too. So we're waiting here so they can get that together and then come out and say something.
I'm watching them. There is some movement in the room there and the door is closing again. So, nothing right now. We're just kind of waiting. My colleague, Ron Plants, says he has some information and he's right here with me right now.
Go ahead, Ron.
RON PLANTS, REPORTER, WGRZ NEWS: I think what probably, Scott, they're sealing off the area. Obviously, with any kind of a plane crash like this -- hold one second.
All right. They're going to brief us within one minute.
I'm just going to say quickly, very quickly, in a situation like this, they want to seal the area off. Obviously, the want to find the black box, which would be crucial on an accident investigation to determine exactly what happened in terms of this crash. They want to make sure that that is secured. So, that would explain, obviously, all the security, all the police, all the cordons we're seeing here, to make sure that there is nothing disturbed at the crash scene, obviously. They also will be attending to any of the victims and any other elements that they need to in the aftermath of a situation like this, Scott.
LEVIN: OK, Ron, very good. I know you're preparing. I'm being told that there are reports of dozens of people that are - that are dead, but we do not know that. That is unconfirmed. There are broadcasts reports out there, but nothing has been confirmed, folks. We are waiting, as are you, to find out the exact facts of the fate of all of the folks onboard, and on the ground. The rescue crew and -
Are they ready to do the news conference now, Ron?
PLANTS: We are still waiting for the spokesperson to come out.
As Josh pointed out, they want to make sure they have the correct information. You have a variety of agencies involved here, so they want to make sure they have coordination, to release the correct information on a situation like this. Because, obviously, it's very impactful, to use that word, in terms of the emotions and -
LEVIN: Ron, speaking about that, what about families? Are there any families that are showing up there?
PLANTS: Actually, Scott, we did speak to a gentleman that I believe - I do not have the exact information on him. I can turn the phone back to Josh. He did speak with this young man.
BOOSE: Go ahead, Scott. What was the question?
LEVIN: I was just asking Ron if families - if any families, of anyone, they've heard that it's Continental Flight 3407, if any of the families are showing there? Or what's happening with the families that are learning, right now, that their loved ones may have been on that plane?
BOOSE: There appears -let me interrupt you, Scott. It appears that they are having a news - they're coming out for a news conference right now. I see the county executive, his spokesperson, several other officials. I see the sheriff here as well, Erie County sheriff . So, I'm going to keep you right here for a second, because they're going to come over, they're on their way. I'm going to put my cell phone up so you can listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, (AUDIO GAP) Here's how this is going to go. I will update everybody with as much information as we can. Information is sketchy still. It's very early in the scenario, the situation. There's a lot of emotion out there and we're not going to (AUDIO GAP). We will give you the facts as we know them at this moment.
I'm going to defer to (AUDIO GAP) experts, behind me, as your questions come up. I will start out by saying that, obviously, we've had a downed aircraft in the town of Clarence. We're specifically the Long Street block. One structure has been seriously damaged and the aircraft is currently still burning, somewhat under control.
We have had multiple fatalities. Those numbers are going to come out in a bit, I'm sure. I will say that this is a long-term event. The scene has been secured by the state police and a long term investigation is imminent.
All the questions about the flight and the origin and destination to the NSTA (ph) and airport operations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me?
QUESTION: How many people on board?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a report that we had 44 passengers onboard with a crew of four, for a total of 48 souls onboard. The plane originated in Newark on schedule to Buffalo.
QUESTION: Any survivors?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me turn that to (INAUDIBLE).
QUESTION: Has it been determined how the plane went down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is still being investigated.
QUESTION: Anyone on the ground killed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure.
QUESTION: Was there a firefighter or firefighters injured?
QUESTION: No firefighter has been injured to my knowledge. We did have one fatality on the ground.
QUESTION: (AUDIO GAP) talk to air traffic control at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unknown.
QUESTION: Did they report any trouble, before --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is all unknown. There is an extensive investigation in progress as we speak. Most of that is very sketchy at this point.
QUESTION: (OFF MIC)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was very little, if any, communication before the crash.
QUESTION: The hospital, where were those people? Were they put on the plane? Were they residents? Two people were taken to the hospital, where were they from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The immediate residents of that house, obviously, were injured.
QUESTION: What time was this plane scheduled to land and what time did the plane crash actually occur?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the plane crashing approximately 10:20 p.m.
QUESTION: What time was it scheduled to land at the airport?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably 10:25.
QUESTION: What do you guys do from here? In terms of investigation and fire suppression, rescue efforts? Is this a rescue effort at this point?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a rescue effort. We're in overhaul mode, if you will. The scene is still very hot. Buffalo fire and the airport fire fighting equipment were assisting us in cooling the scene down. The local fire department did an excellent job bringing the surrounding area under control, keeping damage to a minimum.
County executive, you have anything you want to add at this point?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you it's operating under a limited state of emergency with the unified command under the county. And we have emergency personnel from the NFTA, the county, the town, state police and the sheriff, all coordinating their efforts. Right now there are some fire still going so the scene is not safe for any personnel at this point.
QUESTION: Have residents been evacuated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did evacuate approximately 12 homes. They pretty much went to neighbor's houses. There's no one in any shelters.
QUESTION: Is there a HAZMAT concern? Is there a HASMAT concern?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a HAZMAT concern early on. We had a significant amount of fuel left on that aircraft. However, that has not become an issue. The HAZMAT teams have been returned orders. It's a nonissue at this time.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the NFTA is doing with regard to families who are waiting at the airport?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The families, right now, are at the US Air Club, at the Buffalo Airport. They were coordinating with Continental Airline, as to what further directions they will be offered. It was a Continental Express, operated by Colgan Air. That is C-O-L-G-A-N. It was a 74-seat Bombardier aircraft, a Q400 Bombardier. The tail number on the plane was 3407.
We'd also like to give out at least two phone numbers. If anyone with a family would like to call, they should call 1-800-621-3263. I'll repeat that. 800-621-3263. If the media is calling for questions, they should refer their calls to 713-324-5080. I'll repeat that once again for the media, 713-324-5080.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to give Supervisor Blaski an opportunity to speak on behalf of the town. Scott.
SCOTT BLASKI: Thank you (INAUDIBLE). First, our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on the flight, with their families, as well as with our residents who are on the ground on Long Street. This is an incident in the town of Clarence and we are very mindful and thankful of our first responders. The fire and police who have been there, and (INAUDIBLE) who have worked together, state, county, NFK and local agencies. We just want to say thank you to all of them for their hard work and efforts knowing that this event is still ongoing. For Clarence Center residents, for additional information regarding Long Street, again for Clarence Center residents only, please contact my office if you have questions -- 716-741-8930. Again for Clarence Center residents only, questions regarding Long Street, 716-741-8930. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the crew, the passengers and our residents on Long Street.
DAVE BISSONETTE: Right now the scene is being secured. Fire fighting operations are pretty much expired and the state police have secured the area and we're waiting investigators from the airlines as well as Federal personnel.
QUESTION: How many houses were damaged?
BISSONETTE: One seriously damaged. There was some peripheral damage to some of the neighboring homes at that address.
QUESTION: We heard that that house was leveled. Is that true or not?
BISSONETTE: It's seriously damaged.
QUESTION: What can you tell families out there who are watching this right now live and listening to this live in terms of their loved ones in terms of hope? What do you tell them?
BISSONETTE: This was clearly a tragedy. Everybody -- supervisors already mentioned, our prayers and our thoughts are with the families that have been involved. I would ask the town to be patient with the situation overall. Please do ask your questions but be mindful of the fact that this is a huge operation. We've got a lot to things to take care of here in a short term s that all those answers can be finalized.
QUESTION: Did you hear or see anything?
QUESTION: ... air traffic control before the crash?
BISSONETTE: Not that I'm aware of. The plane just simply dropped off the (INAUDIBLE) screen.
QUESTION: What were the weather conditions at the time?
BISSONETTE: Probably pretty much as they are right now. A little bit of sleet and rain coming down.
QUESTION: How about wind?
BISSONETTE: I'm not really sure.
QUESTION: Is there a flight number for the plane?
BISSONETTE: Yes, the flight number again for those who didn't get this, 3407.
BISSONETTE: And again, that was a Continental flight but it was operated by Colgan Air.
QUESTION: You live in Clarence. Did you hear or did you see anything?
BISSONETTE: No, I live about three miles down the street. We didn't hear anything at home. I got a phone call and that was the first I heard of it.
QUESTION: I imagine this activated everybody's emergency plans.
BISSONETTE: It did. We have plans in place for emergencies like this. Greg Skevisky (ph) in our emergency services department in coordination with various police and the town activated immediately. There is a forward post manned by Greg Skevisky right now at the site. This is obviously the command post. All of the procedures that we train for all the time went forward exactly as planned and are under control as best as you can have in a tragedy of this type.
BISSONETTE: What's the status, all levels from the local right on through Federal operations all represented here doing their jobs. That's all the questions we're going to take right now. We will have more for you in a couple of hours. Let's say 4:00.
QUESTION: Can you identify yourself again.
BISSONETTE: My name is Dave Bissonette. I'm the emergency coordinator for the town of Clarence and this is the EOC. All the information will come from here.
QUESTION: Spell your last name?
BISSONETTE: Last name, B as in boy - i-s-s-o-n-e-t-t-e. Thank you.
CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've just been listening to a news conference there of emergency authorities. We can confirm that Continental flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo crashed into a home in Clarence Center, a suburb of Buffalo, New York. The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed that 48 people were on that plane, although there are unconfirmed reports that there were 49. Two people on the ground were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. We do not know the fate of the pilot, the crew, all those passengers, those 48 people onboard. We do not know the fate. But the authorities just said that this is a tragedy that they were multiple deaths. They have crews on the scene at the moment.
Let's now go to our affiliate and listen in on what's going on.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: But it was still pretty calm you're saying of the people that were there.
TONY DOMINGUEZ: Yes, nobody was rushing around, basically the firemen. Everybody was - I think they were just in shock because this is a small neighborhood and if it was a plane, the way it came down, I'm surprised it didn't do more damage, that it just took out one house.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Are there other houses...
DOMINGUEZ: -- maybe a two-passenger plane.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: All right Tony, thank you very much, Tony Dominquez calling in tonight, witness, just a few hundred feet I guess away from the impact. Again, these are live pictures at the scene. Excuse me.
The plane crash in Clarence Center, you can still see that there is still an awful lot of smoke billowing from the plane at the crash site. We are told though from officials that (INAUDIBLE)
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: The brother of now one of the victims on the plane. When he talked to me, he didn't know anything. But he had a pretty good idea that the outcome wasn't going to be good. His name is Chris Kausner. He was waiting for his sister Elise Kausner, 24 years old, to come in on that flight. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS KAUSNER: Originally they said it had landed and it was taxiing, but that turned out not to be the case.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Town hall.
KAUSNER: I was driving right through town because I was on the way home from a soccer game. And they announced on the radio that they had set up a command station here.
QUESTION: Chris, what has been going through your mind the last few minutes?
KAUSNER: Like I said, I really am just thinking about my mother. My parents are on vacation in Florida. I had to go down there and tell my father what's going on and I'm just thinking about my mom.
QUESTION: How are they taking that?
KAUSNER: To tell you the truth, I heard my mother make a noise on the phone that I never heard before, so not good, not good.
QUESTION: Was it your house, your parent's house?
KAUSNER: No, my sister was on the plane as far as you know.
QUESTION: She was coming in on that flight?
KAUSNER: Yes. My other sister, Laura, was waiting at the airport. I heard on the radio that there had been a crash, so I called immediately to see if the plane had landed at the airport or not. And initially she thought it had, but it turns out that's not the case.
KAUSNER: Yes. She was on a Continental flight coming in from Newark.
QUESTION: Were you able to get close to the (INAUDIBLE)
KAUSNER: No closer than anybody else. I tried but they told me to come over here, that any information would be coming out of here so --
QUESTION: What have you heard?
KAUSNER: Nothing. They're gathering information together right now and they don't really know anything.
QUESTION: What are you thinking?
KAUSNER: Right now I'm thinking the worst. And I'm thinking about the fact that my mother has to fly home from Florida and what I'm going to tell my two sons, that's what I'm thinking.
QUESTION: What's your sister's name?
KAUSNER: It's Elise Kausner.
QUESTION: How do you spell it?
KAUSNER: It's K-a-u-s-n-e-r.
QUESTION: What's your name?
KAUSNER: My name's Chris Kausner.
QUESTION: What was your sister doing in New York?
KAUSNER: She had - there was just a connecting flight. She was flying home from Jacksonville. She's in law school there.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
KAUSNER: You bet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: OK. Don and Jackie, the sad part about that and Chris told me a few minutes later that Elise was just coming home for the weekend and she was going to be going to school with his kindergarten son tomorrow. He just left here a few minutes ago and said now he doesn't know how he's going to explain to his boys what happened to their aunt. Don and Jackie.
CNN CORRESPONDENT: So were just listening to a reporter who spoke to the brother of a girl who was on the plane. He was on his way to the airport to pick her up. As he said, he's thinking the worst. But for those of you who just joined our coverage, we can confirm that Continental flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo has crashed into a house in a suburb in Clarence Center. It's a suburb in Buffalo, New York. The Federal Aviation Administration can confirm that 48 people were on that plane, although we are receiving unconfirmed reports that there were 49. Now our sources on the ground tell us that the house was leveled and that we don't know if there was anybody inside. We cannot confirm that. But certainly emergency authorities say that it was a tragedy and there have been multiple deaths. Let's now return to our affiliate's coverage.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: And did you stop? Did you just continue on, or did you go to the scene?
VOICE OF ANDREW ABDALE: I kept driving but I didn't go to the scene. I didn't say I don't want to get caught up in to it, but I -- I just headed home and told my parents about it. Because I just really didn't know what to do.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: I mean the flames must have been rather intense that you may have seen.
ABDALE: Yeah. The whole sky brightened up. So I knew the plane must have crashed and I just didn't know where at the time.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: And -- OK. Andrew, stay on one minute for us. Again we're looking at video that's coming in to channel 2 right now, the first video from the scene. Right now we're looking -- there it is - here's the first video from the scene, again massive amounts of emergency personnel. The flight was again Continental Airlines from Newark to Buffalo, flight number 3407 with 48 passengers onboard. Family members now are being urged to go to an offsite location where there is clergy also and there's an 800 number for you. It's 800-621- 3263 if you're concerned about any family members that were onboard that flight. Let's check in again with Dave McKinley who's there at the scene, Dave?
DAVE McKINLEY, WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: We're about a little over 100 feet away from what is still very smoldering wreckage and in fact I can tell you, Scott, even when there's a line (ph) of 15, 20 minutes, we have seen this flame up occasionally, so it's still very hot wreckage if you will. I also saw a video from a resident nearby who was good enough to share it with me. It was a video taken just moments after this plane crashed. You can see massive amounts of flames and the tail of the plane before it was entirely engulfed with flames. This young man I talked to for a brief time and I asked him. He said he got about 50 feet away before the heat drove him back. He said it was intensely hot as well and he had about 30 seconds of this video, very dramatic footage and it showed just a horrible scene. Lots of firefighters still here. Occasionally the smoke clears. You can see a couple of dozen of them standing at the ready as the wreckage continues to smolder here on Long Street in Clarence Center.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Dave, tell me about -- you're only 100 feet away. Tell me about the remnants of the plane that you see. Is any part of it intact at all?
McKINLEY: No, it doesn't appear that way. Occasionally Scott the smoke will clear enough so that you can see nothing but a pile of charred ruins basically. Now whether that's the plane, the house that was there or a combination of both, you can't of course be sure, but you do see a smoldering wreckage.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, this is a huge tragedy and a lot for Buffalo people concerned about family members learning about this right now. Can you tell me, are there any family members around there? What is the scene like there? This is a human tragedy.
McKINLEY: Scott, I would doubt seriously there would be any family members. We are right -- you know, almost on top of this thing. And the -- they wouldn't be here at all. There are homes I can tell you in the immediate area surrounding where the plane went down that are completely dark. Obviously those people were evacuated and taken out of here. So, I -- I don't see anyone. The only people I see in here are actual firemen themselves.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: All right Dave, stay with us. We're getting some more information as I speak right now. We do have some video on youtube that I want to stress again, this is not our video here folks. This is from youtube. It was posted just a few minutes ago. You can see plenty of flames, smoke, emergency personnel at the scene there. This person obviously was very close to the scene. Again I want to stress this is from youtube. This is the Internet ago folks. It was posted just a few minutes ago. Obviously probably a hectic time right there. It looks like it wasn't long after in fact there are the flames are pretty high. You see emergency personnel coming to the scene there, firemen, all sorts of emergency personnel are on the scene we're being told tonight. And this person is focusing in right on the crash scene in Clarence Center. Once again, this is courtesy of youtube from an anonymous person right now. But this is video that was posted just a few moments ago of the crash scene.
Let's go back -- that's a citizen photo also of the scene. Let's go back to Josh Booth (ph). Josh, what's the latest there?
We're efforting (ph) to get Josh Booth again and we're going to still look at a few of the citizen photos of the scene. This is from Joseph Dombrowski (ph). This is an incredible picture here of the explosion, obviously the flames and the smoke at the scene. Let's go over to Kevin O'Connell (ph) now and Kevin, you have more information.
KEVIN O'CONNELL, WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: I want to do a quick back track and check with the meteorologist out at the Buffalo airport and remind you that the crash scene is approximately five miles from the large runway at Buffalo international. And at approximately 10:00 this evening, the conditions at the airport which would be similar in many ways to what the scene was like out in Clarence, it was 33 degrees. We were experiencing some light snow maybe mixing with a little light rain. The winds were out of the west-southwest, I indicated 10 to 15 -- they were 13 miles an hour. Interestingly enough, Scott, visibility was officially three miles.
So, there may have been some very light fog, but visibility of three miles at approximately 10:00 to 10:15 tonight. Again to the best of our ability we have determined using Continental airline's own description that it was probably a long version of the Dash 8 aircraft called the Q400. It has a seating capacity of 74. It is a turbo prop. A couple of folks in the cockpit and two stewardesses would have been the crew of four. WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Thank you Kevin. Let's go back to Channel 2's Josh Booth and Josh, you're going to give us a recap of what's has occurred tonight in Clarence Center
JOSH BOOTH, WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: That's right Scott. Let's just start from the beginning here. Basically a little after 10:00 tonight, a plane carrying 48 people crashed into a home in Clarence just off of Clarence Center Road. Two people were taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Williamsville. They were not on the plane. They were residents and they were in the area. Emergency officials, local authorities will not say if there are survivors right now. All they will say is that the plane is still burning at this point. Again, 48 people were on board. It was coming, the plane was coming from Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo. Four crew members and 44 passengers. The New York state police is currently securing the perimeter right now. Family members are at Buffalo Niagara international airport. They have been sectioned off in their own little group. At least some family members of some of the victims on the plane or some of the people on the plane, I should say and they are there right now with airport officials. My colleague Ron Plants (ph) was also at this news conference. He has some information on what exactly was going on right before this plane came down, Ron?
RON PLANTS, WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: That's right Josh. During the press conference, it was asked whether or not there was any kind of a mayday distress call from the plane to the control tower at the Buffalo airport. Doug Hartmeyer (ph), who was with the NTFA (ph) says he was not aware of any mayday or distress call at this point. Obviously the FAA will be check their tapes from the aircraft controllers at the airport to see if there is any indication of anything on there. We do know also in terms of the weather conditions, Hartmeyer was asked if that could have been a factor here. He said that to the best of his knowledge, we have generally what we have here now in Clarence which is sleet. There's no strong wind at this point as we had earlier in the day. But it is kind of an icy sleet mix. Sometimes in the upper atmosphere, that can be more of a problem for a plane. But again, we don't want to speculate on that as a caused at this point.
Again, this will be a very thorough investigation. There will probably be an NTSB boat team as they're called which are immediately dispatched to the scene of a plane crash to immediately start gathering evidence. Again, the area has been sealed off in addition to the concern about the fact that as Josh pointed out, the plane is still burning and they want to make sure that they control any flames. The jet fuel is extremely volatile as you might imagine. They want to make sure that's taken care of. They did indicate that they do not feel that there was a hazmat situation at this point. That would probably be the concern of fumes, things of that nature. But again, they stress that they do not have any concerns at this point about hazmat. So again, that's what we're hearing in terms of some of the background information. Again, they are going to have a briefing at about 4:00 a.m. I believe they said with additional information. Right now again it's just a matter of gathering evidence from the scene and coordinating this scene off and obviously trying to handle things the best they can. I'm going to turn the phone back over to my colleague Josh Booth at this point.
BOOTH: Scott, just two more things here. First off, the question was brought up about the possibility of an injured firefighter or firefighters from the scene. And officials say that is not the case, that a firefighter has not been injured or certainly they're not commenting on that. They say from what they know, that is not the case. Just a few minutes ago, when Ron was talking to you though, I looked off into the woods here. You can see some flashing lights. You can still see a very large pool of smoke. It just dissipated. But you can certainly see it standing here at town hall probably a couple of miles away.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Josh, do we have a confirmed number of fatalities tonight?
BOOTH: We do not. They were very sensitive. Emergency officials here, police were very sensitive how they were wording this. They did not say that there were any survivors. All they would not say is that the plane is still burning. They did not say if they pulled anyone out of that. They said they were talking to families and families were at the airport, families of the people onboard that plane but they would not say as far as if there were survivors, if they were working on survivors, Scott.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: All right, Josh, stand by. We'll kind of get some more information as you get it. And let's go back to some of that first video of the scene that is just into channel 2 news. Again, you're seeing this video that's just back to us of the scene. Obviously very, very large explosion there. We have witness reports that the plane nosedived into this home. Also witnesses say that the home basically is flattened right now and really no longer exists. Obviously an awful lot of rescue personnel appears to be, to me, I'm looking at what may be the part of the plane there. Let's go to Suzy Reinhardt. She's on the phone with us now. She's safe and sound in her home I believe in Lewiston (ph) now but that was Suzy, earlier tonight, you took a later flight. You could have been, I'm being told, on that flight from Newark that crashed in Clarence. Is that right?
SUZY REINHARDT: Technically Scott, I was supposed to be on an earlier flight. There were several delays in Newark. My flight was originally scheduled to leave at 4:30.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Was that flight 3407?
REINHARDT: No, I was on 3268 and then 3407 was the next flight so I was on 4:30, 3207 was at 7:00 p.m. and the 7:00 p.m. actually left before the 4:30 did and I toyed with getting on that 7:00 flight, saying OK, I'll get home earlier. Chatted with a woman who was thinking about doing the same thing. She was on the 7:00, knew it was delayed and thought should I try and get on the 4:30. She said to me, you know what, I'm going to stay on this plane. I just called my boyfriend, said I'll be in on the 7:00.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Tell me about the plane that you took. Do you know if it was similar to the one -- REINHARDT: I believe it was. It's a prop plane and two seats on both sides of the middle aisle. I want to say about 20 rows back.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: At about what time, Suzy, did you land in Buffalo?
REINHARDT: We landed about half an hour after this. We touched down just before 11:00 p.m. And what was interesting for me was that the woman who was seated on the aisle opposite me called her children when she landed to say, hey, I'm home and they were in a total panic because they said there's been a plane crash and she determined it was in Clarence and we just assumed it was a small private plane. And we got off the plane at Newark like there was nothing wrong. Nobody said anything. We got our bags and it was late. There were other planes that were delayed. And now that I look back at it, I'm think there were an awful lot of people waiting for passengers. I'm thinking who's waiting for somebody at 11:00 at night on a Thursday. And it turns out it was these people waiting for -- waiting for people to get off that plane.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Suzy, tell me, your flight -- was there anything unusual about your flight back to Buffalo tonight?
REINHARDT: No and I heard both Ron and Josh talking about the weather. It was as Ron described it, snowy and sleety, very limited visibility. We flew in right over Transit Road. Probably on the same flight plan that that plane was on. And it was just cloudy and foggy, rainy, snowy. We didn't have any problems. It was bumpy but it's not like I hadn't been on a bumpy plane before.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Suzy, before we let you go. Tell me, when you heard about the plane crash and you heard that it was from Newark, what went through your mind?.
REINHARDT: My phone didn't stop ringing because I'm almost always on that flying every Thursday. Everyone knows oh Suzy is on the flight from Newark to Buffalo. And yes, my phone just kept ringing. People were saying, one of my best friend called me and she said my husband made me get out of bed and call to see if you made it home.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Thank God you're safe and sound.
REINHARDT: And my heart to those people who didn't.
WGRZ CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, our thoughts and prayers and most importantly, this is a human tragedy obviously taking place right here in our back yard. Our thoughts and prayers are right now with the families and the firemen and all the rescue personnel that are out there as well. And folks, we're trying to get you the best information, the confirmed information from the scene. As fast as we learn the confirmed information, you will get it from us as well. I'm being told from our producers something like town hall. Say it again?
All right, here's the news conference that took place just about 10, 15 minutes ago. It's on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's how this is going to go. I will update everybody with as much information as we have at the moment here. Information is sketchy still. This is very early in the scenario -- in the situation. There's a lot of emotion out there and we're not going to elaborate. We will give you the facts as we know them at this moment. I'm going to defer to the subject experts behind me as your questions come up. I will start off by saying that obviously we've had a downed aircraft in the town of Clarence, specifically the Long Street block. One structure has been seriously damaged and the aircraft is currently still burning somewhat under control. We've have multiple fatalities. Those numbers are going to come out in a bit, I'm sure. I will say that this is a long-term event. The scene has been secured by the state police and a long-term investigation is imminent. Questions -- one at a time please.
QUESTION: Where did the flight originate from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to defer all questions about the flight and the origin and destination to the NFTA and airport operations.
QUESTION: How many people were onboard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me? Doug.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a report that we have 44 passengers onboard with a crew of four for a total of 48 souls onboard. The plane originated in Newark, was on schedule to Buffalo.
QUESTION: Any survivors?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's undetermined at this point in time.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) and how the plane went down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's still being investigated.
QUESTION: Anyone on the ground killed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Not sure.
QUESTION: Was there a firefighter or firefighters injured?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No firefighters have been injured to my knowledge. We did have one fatality on the ground.
QUESTION: Did they talk to air traffic control at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unknown.
QUESTION: .... Report any trouble?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's also unknown. There's an extensive investigation in progress as we speak and most of that is very sketchy at this point.
QUESTION: What was the last information they had from air traffic control on that flight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was very little of any communication before thye crash.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) on the plane. Were they residents? Two people were taken to the hospital. Where were they from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The immediate residents of that house obviously were injured.