American Airlines Jet Crashes in Queens

The NTSB recovers the flight data recorder of the plane, which carried 255 people.
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Updated from 2:50 p.m. EST

The National Transportation Safety Board has recovered the flight data recorder from an American Airlines jetliner that crashed near New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday morning just after the plane took off.

The cause of the crash was unknown, but the flight data recorder should provide information about the performance of the airplane before it departed and during its time aloft. Officials seemed to be leaning toward ruling out terrorism.

The plane, American Flight 587, was bound for Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. The plane, an Airbus A300, had 255 people on board, including nine crewmembers. The flight was delayed for a few minutes before taking off, but the reason wasn't known. The crew didn't issue a distress call or give any indication of a problem prior to the plane going down.

Witnesses on the ground said one of the engines broke away from the plane before the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are currently treating the crash as an accident. The crash occurred in the Rockaway Beach section of Queens, a residential area about five miles from Kennedy Airport. Several homes in the area around the crash were damaged or destroyed by fires.

Late in the day, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said 161 bodies had been recovered from the crash site.

As a precaution, all three New York area airports were temporarily closed, but two of the airports, LaGuardia, which is also in Queens, and Newark International, in New Jersey, were in various stages of reopening. Tunnels and bridges linking Manhattan to the outer boroughs and New Jersey were allowing some vehicular traffic following their closure earlier in the day. The United Nations complex in Manhattan was under a partial lockdown.

American is a unit of

AMR

(AMR)

. The company held a short news conference, but didn't offer additional details. AMR officials said they had no indication of what led to the crash. The officials said the plane had been in service for American since 1988 and was powered by two engines made by

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

.

The plane crashed at 9:17 a.m. EST, and the major equities averages sank on the news, but stocks rebounded by the close of trading. Transportation stocks skidded.