Deadly Cargo Plane Crash In Birmingham, Ala.

By: CBS News, Posted by Chris Fisher
By: CBS News, Posted by Chris Fisher

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A UPS cargo plane crashed Wednesday morning in an open field just outside an airport in Birmingham, Ala., killing at least two people.

April Odom, a spokeswoman for Birmingham Mayor William Bell, confirmed to CBS News that two bodies were found in the wreckage.

Earlier, UPS spokesman Jeff Wafford said there were two crew members aboard the plane, and Bell said the two crewmembers on board were the pilot and the co-pilot.

Witnesses said there were as many as five explosions in the hour since the Airbus A300 plane crashed around 5 a.m. CDT on approach to the airport.

Reporter Rick Jackson of CBS Birmingham affiliate WIAT-TV reported on "CBS This Morning" on the phone from near the crash site that the plane split in half from the impact.

A residential area is about two blocks away from where Jackson was reporting. A resident walking his dog told Jackson that he was "blessed" that the plane didn't crash in the neighborhood.

There were no homes in the immediate area of the crash, said Toni Herrera-Bast, a spokeswoman for Birmingham's airport authority.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to CBS News that the plane was en route from Louisville, Ky.

Herrera-Bast said the plane crashed in "open land" she described as a grassy field on the outskirts of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. The crash hasn't affected airport operations, she said.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the scene is about a half-mile north of Runway 18.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, conditions in the area were rainy with low clouds. Smoke was still rising from the scene at 7:47 a.m. There was a piece of the plane's white fuselage near a blackened area on the ground.

"The plane is in several sections," said Bell, who was briefed on the situation by the city's fire chief. "There were two to three small explosions, but we think that was related to the aviation fuel."

Previously, a UPS cargo plane crashed on Sept. 3, 2010, in the United Arab Emirates, just outside Dubai. Both pilots were killed. Authorities there blamed the crash on its load of between 80,000 to 90,000 lithium batteries, which are sensitive to temperature. Investigators found that a fire on board likely began in the cargo containing the batteries.

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