AN AMERICAN-owned Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed as it took off from Brussels airport yesterday but no injuries were reported, said an airport spokeswoman.
The jumbo jet broke in two in the crash, which happened at around 11.30am, as it came to rest at the end of the runway 500m from housing in the Brussels suburb of Zaventem.
Fire engines surrounded the wreckage and a yellow emergency escape chute was seen emerging from the door, while a helicopter flew overhead.
Firefighters coated the wings with retardant foam as the plane was full of fuel when the crash happened, but it did not catch fire.
The huge four-engined jet belonged to Kalitta Air and had five people on board, said airport spokeswoman Tru Lefevere.
“There are no injuries even though the five people on board have been taken to hospital,” said Ms Lefevere, adding that one of them was in a severe state of shock.
She said the accident had not disrupted air traffic. However, another airport official, Jan van der Cruysse, said the rail link between the airport and the centre of the Belgian capital had been suspended as the line was close to the scene.
Francis Vermeiren, mayor of the nearby town of Zaventem, said four of those aboard had been “slightly injured”.
Mr Vermeiren, who was coordinating the emergency effort, said the Boeing had come to a halt at the end of a runway, near houses and a cemetery.
He did not know what the plane was carrying.
Speaking to Belgian radio station VRT, he said the pilot had told rescue authorities of hearing a “large noise” while trying to take off.
Some local residents have been campaigning to have this particular runway closed, and said yesterday’s crash was predictable.
“This was very close to a catastrophe,” said Frederic Petit of the local residents’ association. “Imagine if it was an aircraft full of passengers.”
In December 1999 a Korean Air Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed soon after take-off from Stansted airport near London, killing all four crew.
Large-scale disaster was averted after the plane, whose cargo included highly inflammable chemicals, crashed into fields.
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