December 19, 2005

Seaplane crash in Miami kills six: Coast Guard

MIAMI (Reuters) - A seaplane crashed off Miami Beach and
sank into Miami's main shipping channel on Monday, killing at
least six people, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The twin-engine seaplane, which flies between downtown
Miami and the Bahamas, crashed just off the southern tip of
Miami Beach after taking off with 14 passengers and two crew on
board, Coast Guard Petty Officer James Judge said.

"We have six bodies recovered so far," Judge said.

Witnesses told local television the plane seemed to explode
in the sky before falling into Government Cut, the entry to the
Port of Miami, where it came to rest in shallow water next to a

"There was a huge explosion in the sky, a big ball of
smoke," witness Frank Amadeo told Miami's Channel 7 television.
"It just sort of spiraled downward," he added.

The Coast Guard said the channel was closed to shipping.

Local media reported the plane belonged to Chalks Ocean
Airways but the Coast Guard said it could not confirm this.

Chalks planes are a familiar sight in Miami, swooping low
over the ship channel to splash to a landing near Watson
Island, just off the downtown area. A company spokesman could
not be reached immediately for comment.

The crash site, near some of Miami Beach's newest
condominium towers, was surrounded by Coast Guard and other
rescue vessels and scuba divers could be seen descending to the
plane and resurfacing.

"Our primary concern is for the people who still may be
trapped," Judge said.