Cove Neck, NY Jetliner Crashes On Landing Approach, Jan 1990

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Cove Neck, N.Y. (AP) -- A Colombian Boeing 707 jetliner with more than 140 people aboard crashed in fog and rain Thursday night while on approach to Kennedy International Airport, authorities said. Numerous injuries were reported.
Avianca Flight 52 en route from Bogota crashed at about 9:45 p.m. in a sparsely populated area of northern Long Island, a Kennedy airport official said.
There was no immediate report of the number of injuries, nor of any deaths. CBS-TV reported that doctors on the scene said at least 80 survivors were being cared for there. Many ambulances and helicopters were at the scene, where bloodied victims were lined up on stretchers.
The jet broke into four pieces upon impact, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Crawley. There was less than half a mile of visibility and it was raining at the time of the crash, according to the National Weather Service.
The plane missed one approach to Kennedy and made go around, according to Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA knows of at least 30 survivors, CNN quoted her as saying.
The tower at Kennedy lost contact with Flight 52 at 9:34 p.m. when the Boeing 707 was about 15 miles northeast of the airport after a five-hour flight, said Port Authority Police Officer Phil Montouri.
"It was coming in from Bogota and supposed to land at eight o'clock," Montouri said. "There was no radio communication at all to the tower. It just went down."
The airliner went down in the town of Cove Neck, located at about the same place where the tower lost contact, said Officer Peter Franzone of the Nassau County police. The plane carried 142 passengers and a crew of seven, authorities said.
Caracol Radio in Colombia, however, reported there were 151 people aboard but did not differentiate between passengers and crew.
Crawley said several cutters and boats were en route to the area just in case some debris or victims were in the water.
"We have reports that the crash is on land and that it's in four major pieces," Crawley said.
Control tower officials said the plane may have lost power in one of its four engines. Bergen, the FAA spokeswoman, said the agency had reports the plane lost a second engine as well.
Peter Whitelaw, who lives down a hill from the crash site, said he could see a small portion of the downed plane through the trees. He said there were few homes in the area.
"I heard a rumbling, a very loud rumbling," said Whitelaw. "It sounded as if your car was gearing back and you were stripping the gears, and the typical rumble you get from a jet plane going over."
"Normally in bad weather they circle out here but this was louder than normal. Then we heard the crash," he said, adding that through the woods "I see no flames or smoke, or smell anything."
He said the road leading to the crash site was clogged with emergency vehicles.
"These are very narrow roads," Whitelaw said. "They're trying the best they can to get to where it crashed. They're running up the road with stretchers and medical equipment." Most phone lines were down and power was cut off, he said.
"I happened to see a plane going very low," said another witness, David Johnson. "At the altitude it was at I really could not hear any engines. So I am assuming the engines had conked out but there really was no fire or anything."
The area of the crash is near Oyster Bay Harbor on the north shore of Long Island, just south of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, home of President Theodore Roosevelt. It is a isolated, wooded area of expensive homes.
Nick Fisher, a cameraman for WCBS-TV, said there were "maybe hundreds" of rescue workers and volunteers caring for the injured.

Daily Intelligencer Doylestown Pennsylvania 1990-01-26