Nine persons, including Pennsylvania state Transportation Secretary William Sherlock and state Republican chairman Richard C. Frame, died when a twin-engine plane crashed in a suburban area, plowed through a house and exploded.

Also among the dead was Beverly Geary, a pregnant mother of four, whose children and husband were not at the house.

"I heard something that sounded like a bomb going off," said the Belle Brown, who lives across the street from the house. "There was this big ball of black smoke and I couldn't see anything. I thought the whole block was going to go up and I started screaming. I never saw such a sorrowful sight in my life."

The leased Piper Cheyenne Turbo Prop plane crashed shortly after taking off in the fog.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash which also claimed the lives of four transportation department employees: William Smith, 59; Chuck Wilson, 55; Larry Pensyl, 30; and John W. Krebs, 36. Also dead were pilot David Wolf, 35; and copilot Ed Soisson, 46.

The plane, which normally carries eight passengers and two crew members, was used for a trip to Erie Wednesday. Michael McLaughlin, Gov. Milton Shapp's press secretary, said there were vague reports of some trouble with the craft, but "we don't know if the reports were true."