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Ecuador army plane hits buildings, 6 dead

A small military plane crashed into two buildings in the fog-bound capital of Ecuador yesterday, killing at least six people, authorities said.

Defense Minister Javier Ponce said the three army personnel and two civilians aboard the twin-engined Beechcraft 200 plane died in the crash and one other person was killed on the ground. He said the cause of the accident was still unclear.

Emergency officials said the plane hit two buildings in a wealthy neighborhood on the northern side of the city before it crashed in a backyard.

"I felt an explosion when I opened the frontdoor and then heard a loud sound before we raced out," said Elena Morocho, a maid in a home near the crash site.

The plane crashed close to a hotel and the residence of the US ambassador. An embassy spokeswoman said the ambassador was unharmed.

Fog often causes aviation difficulties and delays in the Andean mountain city. In the last two decades several planes have crashed in the hilly, Gonzalez Suarez neighborhood that stands on the path of planes landing in the capital.

"As a fireman this is fourth time I have been here to attend a plane crash, this has to stop," said firefighter Atahualpa Sanchez near the site.

In the 1990s two separate air crashes in the same neighborhood killed the country's top military chief and a government spokesman.

In September last year, a passenger plane carrying more than 60 people skidded off a runway and crashed through a brick perimeter wall before stopping near a busy road in Quito, but no one was seriously hurt.

Quito officials have started the construction of a new international airport outside the city.


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