A U.S. Navy plane crashed yesterday outside a historic bayfront hotel after snagging aerial tramway cables during an Independence Day show in the capital of this U.S. territory in the South Pacific.
The Navy in Honolulu said seven persons died in the crash, including all six crewmen of the plane. The seventh victim was believed to have been a tourist.
One civilian, a Japanese man, was critically burned in the 10:10 a.m. -- 4:10 EST -- crash that left one wing of the 250-room Rainmaker Hotel in flames, said Fred Rohlfing, who heads the American Samoa liaison office in Honolulu. Most of the guests were outside at the time to watch the show.
The plane was based at Mofett Field Naval Air Station, Calif. It had just dropped six U.S. Army parachute jumpers over Pago Pago's central square.
Three jumpers were blown off their target and the plane turned, apparently to follow their descent, when it snagged on a cable of the cross-by tramway, a witness said.
The four-engine P3 Orion turboprop narrowly missed the main square, jammed with an estimated 30,000 natives and tourists here for the scheduled two-day celebration.