Cargo plane goes off runway in West Virginia; 2 killed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A cargo plane contracted by UPS went off the runway and over a steep, wooded hillside Friday at a West Virginia airport, killing the pilot and co-pilot, an airport official said.

Nearly two dozen emergency vehicles lined the runway as emergency crews tried to reach the crash site from above and below, Yeager airport spokesman Mike Plante said.

“It’s difficult terrain to negotiate,” Plante said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on its website that Yeager Airport was closed and wasn’t expected to reopen until Saturday morning. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating and planned a news conference Friday evening.

The Air Cargo Carriers plane had departed from Louisville, Kentucky, at 5:43 a.m. and arrived at the Charleston, West Virginia, airport at 6:51 a.m., Plante said. He said the plane was a small, twin-engine turboprop.

Plante said officials have no idea why the plane, which made regular runs to the airport, crashed. The weather in Charleston was sunny and clear.

News outlets quoted Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper as saying the plane came in sideways, struck the runway early and rolled down the hill.

The airport said in a news release it had contracted with Clean Harbors, a local environmental cleanup company, to help with any spills. The release said there was no evidence that any fuel or hydraulic fluid had spilled into any waterways.

UPS said in a statement that the company was aware of an incident at the airport involving a small feeder aircraft carrying UPS packages, but said it had no details to share.

United Airlines said it canceled all flights into and out of the airport Friday. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines each said they got one flight out in the morning but canceled other flights. Delta had not decided by midafternoon whether to cancel its final flight into Charleston on Friday night or to fly to another airport in the region. Most of the flights use smaller regional planes.

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