Boston: A co-owner of Philadelphia`s two major newspapers was identified today as one of seven people who died when a small private jet ran off a runway at an air force base near here and burst into flames, killing everyone on board.
Bill Marimow, the editor of one of the papers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, confirmed that one of its owners, Lewis Katz, 72, had died in the crash at Hanscom Airfield in Bedford, Massachusetts.
Katz, a former owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, and a business associate, Gerry Lenfest, had won a legal battle last Tuesday over the ownership of The Inquirer when they won an auction for the newspaper.
Katz and Lenfest agreed to pay USD 88 million for The Inquirer and its affiliated properties, which include The Philadelphia Daily News, the website Philly.Com and a printing plant, The New York Times reported.
Katz and six other people were aboard a Gulfstream IV plane that taking off from Hanscom Field around 9:40 pm yesterday headed to Atlantic City, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Bedford is about 32 km northwest of Boston.
The names of the other victims were not immediately released. Emergency crews from Bedford and surrounding communities responding to calls for a plane crash found the jet in flames in a heavily wooded area, said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for the Bedford Police Department. The fire was quickly put out, he said.
Peters of the F.A.A. Said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
Hanscom Field is part of a complex attached to the Hanscom Air Force Base and straddles 1,300 acres in Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Following the accident, airport operations at Hanscom have been shut down. Authorities said the airport would remain closed indefinitely.
Nearby residents recounted seeing a fireball and feeling the blast of the explosion shake their homes. The plane exploded in a blast that sent a fireball and a large plume of black smoke into the air, said Bedford resident Jeff Patterson, who lives beside the runway. The flames rose 60 feet in the air, he said. His son, Jared, said the explosion rattled the house.
"I heard a big boom, and I thought at the time that someone was trying to break into my house because it shook it," said Jared Patterson.
"I thought someone was, like, banging on the door trying to get in," Boston Globe quoted him as saying.