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Plane With 21 Aboard Crashes in Storm, No Survivors

February 8, 1988

MUELHEIM, West Germany (AP) _ A commuter airliner burst into flames and crashed during a storm today, killing all 21 people aboard, police said.

Witnesses said a lightning bolt struck the twin-engine turboprop airliner and that a wing fell off just before the aircraft crashed in a rural area near Muelheim, about seven miles north of Duesseldorf airport.

″There was a fireball in the air,″ a police official said, describing eyewitness reports of the crash.

Police said airplane wreckage was scattered across a wide area.

It was West Germany’s worst plane crash in 17 years, according to the federal Aviation Administration in Braunschweig. In September 1971, 21 people died when an airliner went down near Hamburg.

Federal flight authorities in Frankfurt said the plane was on a flight from Hanover to Duesseldorf airport.

Snow and rain squalls with gusty winds were moving through the region at the time of the crash, officials said.

A spokesman for federal flight control authorities in Frankfurt, Hans- Ulrich Ohl, said the plane crashed at 7:57 a.m. local time.

He said the plane, a twin-engine turboprop FA-4 Metroliner, belonged to the Nuremberg Flight Service. The spokesman said 19 passengers and a crew of two were on board at the time of the crash.

″The aircraft just disappeared from our radar screens without warning,″ the spokesman said.

He said the plane did not crash in a residential area. ″As far as I know, there were no injuries on the ground,″ the spokesman said.

A Nuremberg Flight Service official said the flight crew had not reported any difficulties before the crash.

″This leads us to believe that what occurred was a completely unforeseen circumstances,″ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Update hourly