Crews begin removing military charter plane that crashed near Naval Air Station Jacksonville

By DAVID BAUERLEIN | The Florida Times-Union | Published: May 7, 2019

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Crews using a crane and a barge began Tuesday with the heavy lift of removing a Miami Air International plane from the St. Johns River so federal investigators can continue their examination of what caused the plane to slide into the river Friday night with 143 people on board.

After raising the plane from the river and placing it on a barge, the barge will take the plane to an unidentified location for further investigation.

The charter plane was carrying a mix of military and civilian passengers on a Friday night flight from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when it overran a Naval Air Station Jacksonville runway and plowed into the river. All 136 passengers and seven crew members were rescued from the partly-submerged plane.

Until the plane is removed from the river, the NAS Jacksonville airfield remains closed to all incoming aircraft.

Before beginning the salvage operation Tuesday morning, crews finished defueling the plane overnight to prevent the risk of further fuel leaks into the river.

About 200 gallons of jet fuel spilled into the river after the crash, but most of 1,650 gallons that plane was carrying at that time stayed in the aircraft, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Absorbent pads and booms, which are floating barriers, contained the spilled fuel to the area around the plane.

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