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17 Die in Crash of U.S. Plane in Guatemala City

From Associated Press

A Miami-bound DC-6 cargo plane crashed Saturday in a crowded residential neighborhood, killing at least 17 people, including its crew of three Americans, officials said. Several houses were destroyed.

At least 10 others were injured when the U.S. civilian plane, carrying a load of snow peas, crashed into several houses and plowed into a hill shortly after takeoff.

Police blocked off much of the southeastern part of the city of 2 million, but rescue efforts were hampered by a series of explosions caused by several propane gas tanks in homes.

The U.S. crew members were identified as Capt. Joseph Babody, co-pilot J. Theodore and flight engineer Dallas White, said the assistant civil aeronautics director, Natzul Mendez.

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Their names could not be confirmed and hometowns could not be released pending notification of their families, U.S. Embassy spokesman James Dickmeyer said.

Rescuers recovered the bodies of the crew and at least 14 other people, said city fire department spokesman Haroldo Juarez.

Hospital officials treated at least 10 others for burns.

Dickmeyer said the 1950s-vintage, four-engine DC-6 was owned by the Miami-based Aerial Transit Inc.

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The Guatemalan representative of the company is Translados S.A., he said. The company makes three or four trips weekly to the United States to transport export goods, he said.

Jorge Celis, a spokesman for the city’s firefighters, said the plane lost an engine and the pilot apparently had been looking for a small field for an emergency landing when the plane crashed.

“We heard a loud whistling sound first, and then the ground shook. The heat, the heat from the flames was tremendous. We had to leave the house because of the heat,” said Carlos Ramon Perez, 18, who witnessed the crash.


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