US & Canada

Five die in plane crash on New Jersey Interstate 287

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Media captionAerial footage from the scene of the crash

An investment banker and his wife and children are believed to be among five people killed when a small plane crashed on to a New Jersey motorway.

The aircraft went down on Interstate 287 by the town of Harding in the north of the state, said aviation officials.

The single-engine plane spiralled out of the sky and exploded upon impact, witnesses said.

Image caption Recovery efforts revealed the extent of the damage to the small private plane

TV news helicopter footage showed wreckage strewn across the motorway, which was closed in both directions.

Investment bank Greenhill & Co said in a statement to the BBC that the dead were believed to include its managing directors Rakesh Chawla, 36, and Jeffrey Buckalew, 45.

Mr Buckalew's wife, Corrine, and their children, Jackson and Meriwether, are also thought to have died, the bank added.

Wing 'came off'

Greenhill said the plane had belonged to Mr Buckalew, describing him as "an experienced pilot, whose passion was flying".

Robert Greenhill, chairman of the bank, said: "The firm is in deep mourning over the tragic and untimely death of two of its esteemed colleagues and members of Jeff's family. Jeff was one of the first employees of Greenhill.

"He and Rakesh were extraordinary professionals who were highly respected by colleagues and clients alike. They will be sorely missed and our sympathies go out to their families and friends."

A dog, also aboard the plane, is said to have been killed, authorities said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said the aircraft was a turboprop Socata TBM-700.

It took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport before disappearing from radar, he added.

The aircraft was bound for DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.

Witnesses said a wing came off the plane in mid-air, and debris was scattered across almost a quarter of a mile.

A section of the aircraft landed in a tree near a home before it crashed in the middle of the motorway.

One witness, Shona Sternberg, said she was about three cars away at the time of the crash.

She told the Star-Ledger of Newark newspaper that there was an explosion as the aircraft went down.

"Something was breaking off the plane as it was coming down," she said.

"It was coming down fast. It looked like the right wing was breaking off."

Another witness, Chris Covello, told AP news agency: "It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping. It started going straight down.

"I thought any second they were going to pull up. But then the wing came off and they went straight down."

Interstate 287 is a busy motorway that wraps around the New York City area.