DUBAI — A cargo plane owned by US courier United Parcel Service caught fire shortly after take-off and crashed in a military base on the outskirts of the Gulf city of Dubai on Friday, killing both crew members, civil aviation authorities said.
An AFP journalist saw plumes of smoke rising from inside the military base where the Boeing 747-400 came down, reportedly after it caught fire and the pilots tried to crash-land the jumbo jet, one of the world's largest aircraft.
An Emirati official told AFP that the accident "has not affected air traffic in Dubai or road transport," and that there were no casualties on the ground.
The plane, carrying mostly children's toys and plastic products, crashed inside the base, which only ambulances and rescue vehicles were allowed to enter, according to a civil defence official and an AFP journalist.
"The pilot and co-pilot were found dead" in the debris, the official United Arab Emirates WAM news agency reported.
A statement by UPS, the world's largest courier service, said the plane was flying with a crew of two.
A civil aviation statement did not elaborate on the cause of the crash, but said that measures were taken to contain the fire resulting from the accident.
"The plane encountered technical difficulties after takeoff from Dubai airport and the captain tried to land again, but the plane crashed," a civil aviation spokesman told AFP.
Dubai's state television said that "technical problems" had caused the crash.
Witnesses said that the plane was on fire before it hit the ground.
Some buildings are under construction around the base, but there are also inhabited houses near the site of the crash. If the plane had come down in a nearby residential area, the death toll could have been much higher.
"I saw the plane shaving over our houses before crashing. It was like an earthquake," said a woman living not far from the crash site.
Teams of firefighters were busy trying to contain the blazing body of the aircraft, General Rashed al-Matrushi, director of civil defence, told Dubai TV. He said the firemen were also trying to recover the plane's black box.
The aircraft had taken off from the emirate with two crew members on board, bound for Cologne in Germany, UPS said in a statement on its website.
"This incident is very unfortunate and we will do everything to find the cause," it quoted UPS's international operations manager Bob Lekites as saying.
"Our thoughts go out to the crew members involved in the incident and their families."
In October 2009 a Sudanese Boeing 707 cargo plane owned by Azza Transport in Khartoum crashed outside Dubai, near the emirate of Sharjah, killing all six Sudanese crew members aboard.
Sharjah, the third largest emirate after Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is especially used by low-cost airlines and air cargo carriers.
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