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Five people injured in Texas plane crash

All five people — a pilot and four passengers — aboard a Cessna 401-A were hurt when the plane crashed during a failed landing in east Texas. Initial investigative reports indicate that the aviation accident may have been caused by weather conditions or mechanical difficulties.

The twin-engine aircraft went down as it touched the ground at an airport in Gladewater, Texas. Witnesses said the plane skidded off the runway and slid backwards through a brushy area for more than 100 yards. The nose of the Cessna tore off, increasing the chance for the multiple passenger injuries.

All four passengers and the out-of-state pilot were transported to nearby hospitals. Investigators say the pilot was released after treatment. One state police officer said it appeared the pilot broke his finger in the crash. The severity of the passengers’ injuries was not reported.

Those on board told Texas investigators the engine quit just before the plane’s touchdown on the runway. People on the scene at the time of the attempted landing said it appeared that the landing gear never released.

Area pilots, who were familiar with the weather conditions at the airport that Saturday afternoon, speculated that turbulent crosswinds or tailwinds may have contributed to the accident. One experienced Gladewater pilot stated the Cessna 401-A attempted to land during a direct, dangerous crosswind.

The Federal Aviation Administration promised to investigate the initial opinions about the crash. The FAA estimates it will take between three and four weeks to compile a report that determines what happened during the ill-fated landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending separate investigators to take a look at the wreckage. The investigation may be able to provide answers as to what caused the crash. That information can be crucial if the victims in the crash decide to seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: kltv.com, "Winds and engine failure suspected in plane crash," Bob Hallmark, Nov. 14, 2011

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