HOUSTON (AP) — A Boeing 767 cargo jetliner heading to Houston with three people aboard crashed Saturday into a bay just east of the city, according to officials.
Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately know the status of the people aboard. In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said there were three crew members aboard the flight when it crashed.
"I have been told there were probably 3 personnel who were flying and operating the plane," said Hawthorne. "But knowing what I saw, I don’t believe anybody could survive it."
Hawthorne said the wreckage and debris in the bay will likely take weeks to clear. He described the crash, saying the plane is completely destroyed.
"There’s no doubt he was having some kind of problem with the airplanes, according to eyewitnesses, and the plane turned and made a nosedive," said Hawthorne.
The twin-engine plane was an Amazon vessel, and departed from Miami and went down in Trinity Bay, just north of Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends, along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy," said a statement from Dave Clark, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations at Amazon.
An FAA alert was issued after officials lost radar and radio contact with Atlas Air Flight 3591 when it was about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Lunsford said.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the Atlas Air 767 freighter that crashed near Anahuac, TX, earlier today. We are concerned about the safety of the 3 people reported to be on board. Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB as it investigates the accident.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) February 23, 2019
The Coast Guard dispatched several boats to assist in the search for survivors. Video provided by KTRK-TV in Houston showed a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over the water in an apparent search for survivors.
FAA investigators are traveling to the scene as are authorities with the National Transportation Safety Board, which will lead the investigation.
Texas troopers also were at the scene.
In response to the crash, Atlas Air has issued a statement, saying:
Atlas Air 767 cargo aircraft Flight No. 3591 operating from Miami to Houston has been involved in an accident. This is to confirm that an Atlas Air 767 cargo aircraft Flight No. 3591 operating from Miami to Houston has been involved in an accident this afternoon. We understand the aircraft went down near the city of Anahuac Texas, in the Trinity Bay. We can confirm there were three people on board the aircraft. Those people and their family members are our top priority at this time. Atlas Air is cooperating fully with the FAA and NTSB. We will update as additional information becomes available.
According to the FAA website, the plane was built in 1992 and the flight number was 3591.