Traffic disrupted due to crash at airport

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Authorities said the wreckage of the Kalitta Air plane that snap into three could take up to a week before it is completely cleared.

27 May 2008

BRUSSELS - It could take a week to clear the wreckage of the US cargo plane, a Boeing 747 that crashed at Brussels Zaventem Airport on Sunday.

The US carrier Kalitta Air broke apart close to a row of houses while trying to abort a takeoff Sunday. The plane snapped into three pieces.

Air traffic, but also train traffic around Zaventem will continue to be disrupted over the coming days.

The plane was taking off from the freight section of the airport Brucargo Sunday at about 1:30 pm and immediately experienced difficulties.

The Boeing 747-200 skidded to a halt in a field at the end of a runway. The aircraft cracked near the tail and by the wings when it slid past the end of the runway.

The plane, full of fuel, stopped just five metres from a rail line and 500 metres from houses on the edge of the town of Zaventem.

There were five people aboard the plane; four of them were slightly injured.

The airport disaster plan was put into effect and fire fighters were called out from Brussels, Zaventem and Vilvoorde. The mayor of Zaventem, Francis Vermeiren, coordinated the rescue efforts.

Vermeiren said the pilot contacted rescue authorities he heard a loud noise while trying to take off, after which he tried to land the plane. It was not clear what had caused the crash. Experts are examining the aircraft, as well as the cockpit voice recorder, or 'black box'.

Fire fighters coated the wings of the plane with fire retardant foam because the plane was full of fuel.

Rail services to and from the airport were suspended as a safety precaution. Rail services will continue to be disrupted until the wreckage is totally cleared, according to the spokesman of Brussels Airport. It could take an entire week to clear the wreckage.

What was the airplane carrying?
American security officers guarded the wreckage the entire night. Airport officials said the plane was carrying cargo weighing 76 tons. Half of the cargo was diplomatic mail. Other cargo included at least one car and batteries.

The plane was on assignment from the US government to fly to Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is the headquarters of the US marine in the region.

According to Belgian officials, the Americans have confirmed that there was no ammunition on board the plane.

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