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Nov. 13--NEW YORK--A Dominican Republic-bound jetliner broke apart minutes after lifting off from Kennedy International Airport on Monday and nose-dived into a residential neighborhood in Queens, killing all 260 people aboard and sending a wave of anxiety through a beleaguered city and nation.
Six to nine people on the ground were reported missing after the American Airlines A300 Airbus slammed into a neighborhood in Rockaway that was still grieving for residents killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center towers. Six houses were incinerated and six others damaged as flaming debris scattered across the close-knit waterfront neighborhood of police officers, firefighters and Wall Street workers.
The crash is being investigated as an accident, federal officials said, although they had not ruled out entirely terrorism or sabotage. Some witnesses reported hearing a midair explosion and seeing one engine catch fire and break away before Flight 587 crashed at 9:17 a.m., three minutes after takeoff. Both engines were found away from the impact crater, suggesting they had fallen off before the crash.
Late Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterated its belief that the crash was possibly the result of a catastrophic mechanical failure, not terrorism. The jet's cockpit voice recorder indicated the crew was unaware of any problem.
"There is no evidence of criminal activity here. Everything points to an accident," Marion …