A tragic story has been unfolding overnight:

Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, was en route from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo when it went down at around 10:20 p.m. The crash occurred about seven miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Dave Bissonette, Clarence Center’s natural disaster services coordinator, said it was “clearly a direct hit” on the house.

“The only recognizable piece of the plane left is the tail,” Bissonette said.

CNN has listened to a tape of communications between air traffic control and the flight crew. The first officer had no sign of stress in her voice initially. The plane was cleared for approach. About two minutes later, the air traffic controller came back, with stress in his voice. Radar contact was lost.

The question went out: Can other planes see anything? No one responds. The controller says they might have a plane down. The pilot’s last comment was “Colgan Flight 3407.” There were no sounds of distress.

The Buffalo News reports that Beverly Eckert, who lost her husband in the WTC attacks, was on board and en route to a celebration of her late husband’s birthday:

For Sue Bourque, the wait for confirmation regarding her sister, Beverly Eckert, was all too familiar. Eckert is the widow of Sean Rooney, a Buffalo native who lost his life in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Eckert was traveling to Buffalo for a weekend celebration of what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday. She also had planned to take part in presentation of a scholarship award at Canisius High School that she established in honor of her late husband.

Bourque said that while the family had not yet received official confirmation of her sister’s fate, the reality was settling in. “We know she was on that plane,” Bourque said, “and now she’s with him.”

Other flights in the area were reporting icing but the cause of the crash is unknown at this point.

Update II:
MSNBC has just announced that the death toll was raised to 50 – an off-duty airline employee was on the flight.

Update:
Continental Airlines has posted information about flight 3407 on their website.

Related:
Plane crash New York: Audio of air traffic controller
Flickr photos from the scene
Colgan Air
Bombardier Dash 8



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