Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cargo plane bound for St. Maarten crashed in Puerto Rico, apparently killing 3 crew

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A vintage cargo plane loaded with bread crashed in a lagoon near Puerto Rico's international airport on Thursday, killing the airline's owner and another crew member, authorities said.

The plane had just taken off when the pilot told air traffic control that the plane was having engine trouble, said Juan Rivera, spokesman for the Luiz Munoz Marin airport. It was returning to the airport when it crashed, killing both people aboard, Rivera said. Officials earlier said three had died.

The plane was operated by Florida-based Jet One Express and was bound for the Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

Alejandro Bristol, CEO of Jet One Express, said his father, who is owner of the company, died in the crash. He identified the plane as a Convair 340, which was manufactured in 1953, according to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration records.

Bristol said he was en route to Puerto Rico and declined further comment.

Authorities earlier identified the plane as a Convair 440.

Melina Simeonides, spokeswoman for the island's emergency management agency, identified the victims as Uriel Bristol, 67, and Anthony Tavares, 45. She said it is not clear yet who was the pilot.

The plane would make about 15 trips a week to deliver bread to several Caribbean islands, said Arnaldo de Leo, airport manager. It was carrying 2,500 pounds (1,134 kilograms) of bread when it crashed, he said.

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