PALM SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — A small plane plunged into a mobile home park, sending flames and a column of black smoke into the sky, and authorities said they rushed to check for an “unknown number of victims” in the chaotic aftermath.
The aircraft struck two homes at the Mar-Mak Colony Club in Palm Springs before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Albert Borroto said in an email. He said 911 callers reported a low-flying aircraft and first responders arrived at the crash site to find thick smoke rising in the air.
Borroto said one mobile home was completely engulfed in flames. While he said there was an “unknown number of victims,” he wouldn’t say how many people were injured or if anyone had died.
An AP reporter on the scene saw workers loading two stretchers into a white van. Each stretcher appeared to hold a covered body.
Domingo Galicia said he lived in one of the mobile homes hit by the plane and that his 21-year-old daughter, Vane, was inside at the time of the crash. He said he was blocked by flames when he went to open the door to the home.
“Where is my daughter?” he asked. “I don’t know where is my daughter right now.”
After speaking to a reporter, Galicia began to cry and family members huddled around him, praying in Spanish.
The mobile home park has a few dozen homes and many of its residents speak only Spanish. The park is dotted with palm trees and bordered by a drive-in movie theater, a wooded area and strip malls catering to Spanish-speaking residents.
Clara Ingram, who lives in the trailer park, told The Associated Press that she was home at the time of the crash and heard it happen.
“It just pounded, like an explosion,” Ingram said. When she went to look out her door, she saw “nothing but a big ball of fire.”
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Therese Barbera said there was no update Wednesday morning as officials waited for the National Transportation Safety Board to arrive at the scene.
The NTSB said it would update the media on its investigation at 11 a.m.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen confirmed the crash in emails to The Associated Press but said she had no further details.
“The post-crash fire probably destroyed the aircraft so it will take a while for us to confirm the type,” she said.
By late Tuesday, the fires had been put out, but plumes of smoke still rose from the scene, which was illuminated by flood lights.
Tyron Caswell, an employee of a car dealership across the street, told the Sun Sentinel newspaper he saw a huge plume of smoke after hearing the crash. He said employees there were reviewing security footage taken outside the building of the plane dropping from the sky.
“When I look back at the video it was like, ‘Whoa,'” he said, adding he was stunned by how close he was to the crash.
The Red Cross had been called to assist two families, authorities said.
Associated Press Writer David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the plane crashed in Palm Springs, Florida, not Lake Worth, and that the last name of the man whose daughter was inside one of the mobile homes is Galicia, not Gilicia.
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