Five passengers on board a small airplane departing from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas, died Wednesday after the aircraft crashed outside a 3M plant shortly after takeoff.
The plane was en route to the John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, carrying five employees — including the pilot — from The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), which aids in large-scale emergency disaster recovery.
“We are incredibly saddened to report the loss of our Little Rock colleagues,” Dr. Paul Nony, senior vice president of CTEH, told The Daily Wire in a news release. “We ask everyone to keep the families of those lost and the entire CTEH team in their thoughts and prayers.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials told local media the agency and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate the crash.
A spokesperson from CTEH told The Daily Wire that the employees were responding to the incident at the I. Schumann and Company Metals Plant in Bedford, Ohio, after an explosion and large fire erupted on Monday, killing one maintenance worker and sending 13 others to the hospital with injuries.
“An explosion of unknown origin struck our Bedford, Ohio, facility today resulting in injuries to employees and significant damage to the facility,” I. Schumann & Co. said in a statement, according to CBS affiliate WOIO-TV. “Our efforts now are focused on supporting the first responders who came on scene quickly to help our employees.”
“We intend to cooperate with OSHA and other officials in their investigation as we search for answers in this tragic accident,” I. Schumann’s statement said. “We are working with our employees regarding their needs while the facility is idle and hope to have clarity on our operations in the near future.”
Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the explosion.
News helicopters flying over the scene at the time of the accident witnessed fire and a large plume of smoke coming from the building, which firefighters reportedly have under control.
Several videos posted on social media showed debris surrounding the scene and fire-damaged vehicles nearby.
I. Schumann & Co. is located about 70 miles northwest of East Palestine, Ohio, where a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals derailed and forced thousands to evacuate their homes earlier this month.