Fed-Ex Plane Bursts into Ball of Fire in Tokyo Crash

A FedEx cargo plane burst into flames after bouncing off a runway in unusually high winds at Tokyo's main international airport Monday, killing the pilot and copilot and closing a major runway for several hours.

The flight from Guangzhou, China, skipped along the main runway at Narita Airport before skidding to a fiery halt, according to footage from airport security cameras. Firefighters and rescuers immediately swarmed the plane.

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The pilot and copilot — the only people onboard the flight — were pulled from the cockpit and taken to a local hospital, where they were later confirmed dead.

National broadcaster NHK identified them as 54-year-old pilot Kevin Kylemosley and his 49-year-old copilot, Anthony Stephen-Pino.

FedEx could not immediately confirm details of the crash, spokeswoman Denise Lauer said in an e-mail from the company's Memphis office. Police could confirm only that the two crew member has died.

The plane smashed into the longer of Narita's two runways, which remained closed Monday morning with all incoming flights diverted, said airport spokeswoman Misuho Fukuda.

Ikuo Uda, a spokesman for Narita International Airport Corp., which manages the airport, said 16 international flights were canceled, and that the airport was operating with only one runway several hours after the crash.

Unusually strong winds of up to about 47 miles per hour were blowing through Narita City on Monday morning around the time of the crash, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Airport officials said it was too early to say whether the strong winds caused the crash.

Local news reports said the plane was an MD-11, a widebody airliner built by McDonnell Douglas and based on the DC-10.

Strong winds and turbulence have caused other recent incidents at the airport. Last month a flight from the Philippines was jolted by severe turbulence as it circled prior to landing, injuring 50 passengers and crew members.

Narita Airport is a major international hub located about 35 miles  east of central Tokyo. It is Japan's second-busiest airport, after Haneda Airport, a largely domestic hub in Tokyo.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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