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UPDATE 2 — Five children among seven killed in Alabama plane crash
DEMOPOLIS, ALABAMA (BNO NEWS) -- Five children as young as two were among a family of seven who were killed on Saturday evening when their small plane crashed near a local airport in western Alabama, the local coroner confirmed on Sunday.
The accident happened at around 6.34 p.m. local time on Saturday near Demopolis Municipal Airport in Demopolis, a city in Marengo County. The eight-seat Cessna 421C aircraft was flying from the city of Gadsden in Alabama to Shreveport, Louisiana.
"[The aircraft] declared an emergency and diverted to Demopolis Municipal Airport after losing its right engine. The plane crashed within about two miles (3.2 kilometers) of the airport," said Holly Baker, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). "Seven people were on board."
Despite having crashed close to the airport, Baker said the downed aircraft was not found until about 2.17 a.m. local time on Sunday. Marengo County Coroner Stuart Eatmon arrived at the scene at around 9 a.m. local time, and it took several hours to recover the victims from the wreckage.
"I went out in the field at about nine o'clock and we carried them all to the forensics lab at around three o'clock," Eatmon said, confirming that all seven people on board were killed. "We had to lift the plane [which was] completely burned up."
The coroner said the seven victims were burned beyond recognition. "I'm going to say the five kids might have been from eleven to about 2.5 to three [years old], because I got a little girl [aged] 2.5 to three. It was small bodies up to a ten or eleven year old child."
According to federal records, the 1978-built aircraft was registered to Advanced Integrated Technology Solutions, LLC in Niceville, Florida. No one answered the phone number provided at the company's website, which said the company provides custom software and hardware solutions.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the cause of Saturday's accident, which is the deadliest plane crash in the United States so far this year. In March, five people were killed when a small plane crashed at Long Beach Airport in California.
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