A helicopter has crashed into a building on East 72nd. It was thought to be a small plane, but now reports say it is a helicopter. The helicopter seems to have crashed into 524 East 72nd Street, a residential apartment building. CNN is saying there are no reports of terrorism or hijacking.
Update: Dan Dickinson says it smells like smoke three blocks away and that traffic is screwed.
Update: NY1 is reporting that 3-4 apartments are engulfed in flames.
Update: Victims are apparently trapped in the building; reports say there is at least one DOA. Heavy debris is falling as well. And the building at 524 East 72nd Street is the Belaire Building. Nearby: The Hospital for Special Surgery (it's unclear whether the hospital was hit).
Update: Workers are apparently trapped on the roof of the building. We also hear that the streets are packed with people, many taking cameraphone pictures.
The MTA is reporting that bus service in the area will experience some delays.
Update: City and the FDNY have confirmed that a helicopter crashed into the building. WABC 7 reports that the helicopter was flying in "exclusion airspace."
All local news channels have joined NY1 and CNN with live coverage. A witness told WNBC, "There's huge pieces of debris falling. There's so much falling now, I've got to get away." WCBS 2 reports that a helictoper had been in the air for a photography tour, "but there is NO confirmation that that is the aircraft which collided into the building."
Update: CNN reports that air patrols are being deployed. And the FAA says it was a fixed wing aircraft that crashed into the building; NORAD says they were not tracking any aircraft.
Update: WNBC 4 is reporting that some people saw airplane/seaplane/helicopter made a sharp right turn into the building. Luggage was found on street along with two bodies and the wheels of the aircraft. And according to the WNBC.com website:
Christine Monaco, a New York spokeswoman for FBI, said there wasn't indication of terrorism in the crash, but that officials "have been sent to the scene as a routine." FAA spokesman Jim Peters said all three New York City-area airports are operating normally.
The FDNY have also raised this a four alarm fire, which means 16 engine and 9 ladder companies have responded; most of the fire has been extinguished.
A WNBC reporter said that a FDNY official also said the "penetration" of the crash wasn't significant - meaning that the aircraft doesn't seem to have compromised the structure.
Update: Alex Wallace, who is a VP at NBC News and happened to be dropping off her child in the area, had originally thought it was a helicopter because of the piece of aircraft that fell. She described to WNBC that it looked like the plane made a turn and seemed to make a nosedive into the side of the building. WNBC's Tim Minton mentioned a witness who said it seemed like a plane had been doing "tricks" in the air.
Update: NBC reports the aircraft was a single engine plane from Teterboro. WNBC mentioned that the tags on the luggage said "White Plains" (perhaps bound for White Plains).
Update: A total of four people have been confirmed dead - two people from the plane, two people from the building. Additionally, the aircraft was a Cirrus 20, which supposedly has a parachute for emergencies. (When we thought that type of plane sounded familiar, it was because the owner of Kartell died in a Cirrus SR20 last month.)
Update: It's unclear who owns the plane; it seems to have been owned by a Florida man who was in the process of selling it. And on WNBC, they have been introduced a "concerning report" that the plane could have been purchased by Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle, who had purchased a $187,000 Cirrus SR20 recently and only got his pilot license in the off-season (here's a NY Times article that discusses Lidle and his plane), based on information on the tail.
Gawker has some photographs of the building on fire (you can see charring on the sides) and Curbed as a pre-crash photograph of the building.
Update: Nine people, including four firefighters, were admitted to New York Hospital. The hospital also said there was one DOA - unclear that was included in the nine.
Update: Law enforcement confirmed that a member of the Yankees organization was on board the plane.
Update: NY Times says "Yankees Pitcher Cory Lidle Was Killed in the Plane Crash, High-Ranking City Official Says." Lidle's passport was found on the street.
Lidle spoke with Mike and the Mad Dog on Monday, discussing whether or not he had blamed Joe Torre for the loss in quotes after Game 4; the interview is still on WFAN.com.
Update: During interviews, Governor Pataki says that air space may need to be restricted after this (question being, why are aircrafts allowed to fly so low and close to buildings?). Additionally, it seems that Lidle did have a visual flying license (able to fly in good weather with visibility of 3 miles) but not an instrument license (more about pilot certification from Wikipedia).
Update: Mayor Bloomberg is having a press conference. He confirms that two people were aboard - one was a flight instructor, the other was a student with about 75 hours of experience. (He does not mention Cory Lidle at all and shut down any questions about it saying they do not know.) The damage to 524 East 72nd was relatively small because the plane itself was a lightweight composite plane. The Mayor also credited the FDNY and NYPD with their response and cooperation with each other.
The plane's route from Teterboro: Statue of Liberty, then up the East River, past the 59th Street bridge where it lost radar contact. Exclusion zone means planes just needs visual contact, but doesn't need to be in contact with air traffic.
The NTSB is on site. The building is being re-occupied. Mayor Bloomberg asks that everyone pray, but also noted that we were lucky it wasn't a bigger accident with more injuries.
The Mayor also mentioned that two people were able to escape the building when the plane crashed (were only two people killed - the two on board the plane - now?).
Update: A distress call was made before the crash. Mets players, getting ready for their game tonight, tell reporters they are sad and send out their prayers to the Lidle family and Yankees organization. The Yankees have not made an official statement yet (their website did link about the MLB.com story about Lidle possibly being dead, but now it's gone), but MLB.com has put his picture up with "March 22, 1977 - October 11, 2006" on the homepage with this article.
Update: NBC is reporting the Lidle is confirmed dead.
Photograph on middle right of 524 East 72nd Street by Frank Franklin/AP; photograph above with detail of a floor at 524 East 72nd Street by Jeff Christensen/AP; photograph of Lidle by Gail Burton/AP