4 presumed dead in Miami cargo plane crash
DC-8 was bound for Dominican Republic
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MIAMI (CNN) -- A Fine Air DC-8 cargo plane crashed nose first into a warehouse area near Miami International Airport shortly after takeoff Thursday afternoon.
Police say the four people on board are presumed dead. At least four injuries on the ground were also reported after the 12:34 p.m. crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was leaving Miami, bound for Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
The plane's "black box," the flight data recorder, was recovered. In Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board said a team of investigators is being sent to the site.
'It crashed right in front of me'
Witnesses described their close calls as the plane lost altitude, hitting parked cars and a strip of one-story offices and warehouses moments after takeoff.
"As it was trying to take off, the nose went down and it took the asphalt off the ground," one unidentified witness told CNN affiliate WSVN. "It started lifting cars 20 feet up into the air," he said.
Another witness, Zoila Sustiel, told the station the plane was "coming right at me. It crashed right in front of me."
"I saw that it lost balance ... and then it went nose-first into the asphalt," she said.
"The right wing was really diving down. It looked like the pilot was trying to straighten it out," said James Moralez of Metro-Dade (County) Fire Rescue. "It dove toward the left and finally it went on down," he said.
"It was in the air five seconds," witness George Fosch said. "It went to the right and then dropped like a rock."
Burning wreckage, but airport open
Live television pictures from WSVN shortly after the crash showed firefighters spraying foam over burning wreckage scattered over a wide area.
Fine Air Flight 101 burst into flames at 12:34 p.m. EDT (1634 GMT), sending huge balls of red flames and black smoke skyward. An hour later, the size of the fire had diminished considerably but smoke continued to billow from the scene.
The FAA said the plane was taking off toward the west from an east-west runway of the airport when it crashed. Two of the three runways at the Miami airport continued to operate after the crash.
Nanci Adels, a spokeswoman for Fine Air, told CNN there were three crew members and a security guard on board. She said information on what cargo the plane was carrying would be available later.
The crash came one day after Fine Air began offering stock to the public.
The company's Web site says Fine Air operates a fleet of 15 DC-8s hauling freight to South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The Miami-based company grew out of the 1948 air service that transported fresh produce from Latin America to the United States.
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