A small 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900 twin turbo prop crashed into trees, broke apart and burst into flames at about 2:45 pm Wednesday in Southwest Miami-Dade, killing all four people on board, authorities said.
The Beech 1900 aircraft went down 2 miles west of Miami Executive Airport, 12800 SW 145th Ave., formerly Tamiami, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The aircraft departed from Runway 27 Left at Tamiami and was headed to Providenciales International Airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“The pilot was attempting to return to the airport when the aircraft crashed. The aircraft was not registered in the United States,’’ said Kathleen Bergen of the FAA. Aviation sources said the plane was registered in Venezuela and it would have been refueling in the Turks and Caicos before heading to the South American country. The plane was carrying 500 gallons of fuel, firefighters said.
The FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board and Miami-Dade Police are investigating.
The crash occurred in a field at the northwest corner of Southwest 144th Street just west of Krome Avenue (Southwest 177th Avenue), said Erika Benitiez of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. While no one was injured on the ground, the plane tripped power lines, causing several hundred people in the neighborhood to lose power. A spokesman for FPL said 537 customers were affected, and all but four customers were restored within an hour.
Krome Avenue would be closed Southwest 136th to 168th streets until Thursday morning, according to Miami-Dade Fire.
Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles. The plane, which could carry up to 19 passengers, came to rest in several pieces.
Lucy Landin, 53, rushed to the area when her 89-year-old mother, Clara Arcia, called her panicked, saying a plane had crashed next door. “She was making lunch, she had just put the plates on the table, and she heard like a huge explosion — like a bomb,’’ Landin told the Miami Herald. Her mother lives in a house adjacent to the crash site on the south side.
Four passengers, who have not yet been identified, were on the plane, airport spokesman Greg Chin said. The pilot reported engine trouble shortly after takeoff and was either trying to make it back to the airport or conduct a safe landing when the plane crashed, he added.
“The passengers were not able to survive this,” Chin said.
Twenty fire units rushed to the scene, including a foam truck from nearby Miami Executive Airport, said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokesman Alexio Rodriguez.
By 3:45 p.m. the fire was put out.
"They were able to prevent the fire from spreading," said Miami-Dade Fire Department spokeswoman Michelle Sayed.
Websites for plane-spotting enthusiasts reported seeing a Beech 1900 in several airports around Venezuela. And some suggested that the airplane, at least at one point, might have belonged to a Venezuelan security company that used it to transport valuables.
Phone calls to Venezuela's Civil Aviation Authority and the security company that may have owned the airplane were not immediately answered.