Stephenville, NF Airliner Crashes, Oct 1946
AIRLINER CRASHES IN FLAMES IN NFLD.
RESCUE CREWS REPORT 39 PERSONS ARE KILLED.
Giant Four-Engined Skymaster Crashes Into Newfoundland Hill After Take-Off From Stephenville -- Worst Commercial Airline Accident In History.
New York, Oct. 3 -- (A.P.) -- An American Overseas Airlines plane plunged in flames in the wilds of Newfoundland today, and hours later the coast guard said rescue parties reported the 39 persons aboard were dead.
The coast guard said the brief message telling of the worst commercial airline accident in history was received at 12:50 p.m. C.S.T. It said helicopters were en route to Stephenville, 10 miles from the crash, to take airline, coast guard and army officials to the scene.
Six of the passengers -- none of whom was Canadian -- on the ill-fated plane were children, accompanying their mothers who were en route to Europe to join their husbands. There were 12 women aboard.
The four-engine DC-4, en route from New York to Berlin, crashed ten minutes after it left Stephenville, Nfld., at 2:24 a.m. C.S.T.
The coast guard in a radio message said three persons, believed to be Newfoundland civilians, were at the scene and an army searching party was at the foot of the hill into which the plane crashed.
The message said the searching party had one-half mile to go. The plane crashed 100 feet from the top of the hill, which is covered with rocks and scrub trees.
The message, sent from a coast guard plane at the scene, said the airliner appeared to have exploded after the crash and that only a tiny fragment of the ship was visible. There was a heavy rain at the time.
It was the second plane tragedy in the Newfoundland wilds in two weeks. On Sept. 18 a Belgian Sabena airliner crashed near Gander, killing 27 of the 44 aboard.
Stephenville is on the west coast of Newfoundland, approximately 225 miles west of Gander airport.
First reports from relatives of the passengers, indicated some of the women and children were en route to Germany to join their husbands.
At Gander, officials of the airline said rescue planes which flew over the area reported the wreckage still was burning four hours after the crash and that it was unlikely anyone aboard was alive.
The big plane, a Skymaster, smashed into a hillside 20 miles from Harmon Field at Stephenville, where it had refuelled because the Gander airport was closed in with rain and fog. The ceiling at Harmon Field was 5,000 feet and visibility 10 miles.
The coast guard dispatched a B-17 and a helicopter from Argentia, Nfld., the helicopter was expected to reach the scene at 1:30 p.m. C.S.T. today.
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