October 4

This Day in History

Disaster

Oct 4, 1992:

Plane crashes into apartment building

A cargo plane crashes into an apartment building near an airport in Amsterdam, Holland, on this day in 1992. Four people aboard the plane and approximately 100 more in the apartment building lost their lives in the disaster.

An El-Al Boeing 747 cargo jet was scheduled to bring 114 tons of computers, machinery, textiles and various other materials from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 4. At 6:30 that Sunday evening, Captain Isaac Fuchs piloted the jet, carrying two other pilots and one passenger, out of Schipol Airport in good weather. However, only minutes after takeoff, fires broke out in the plane's third and fourth engines and they fell right off the wing.

Fuchs decided to dump the plane's fuel in a lake and head back to the airport, but the plane did not have enough power to make the return trip. Six miles short of the airport, Fuchs radioed, "Going down," and the plane plunged straight into an apartment building in the Bijimermeer section of Amsterdam. A massive fireball exploded through the building. Firefighters rushed to the scene, but by the time the fire was under control, about 100 people were dead. An exact number was impossible to determine, as the explosion made body identification extremely difficult and the building housed mainly undocumented immigrants from Suriname and Aruba.

The accident was very similar to one that had taken place in Taiwan less than a year earlier, in which a China Airlines jet had crashed after losing its two right engines. An investigation into that crash had revealed the problem to be related to a fuse pin, part of the mechanism that binds the engines to the wings. Both crashes probably resulted from the fatigue and failure of this part.

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