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Small plane crashes near Vancouver airport

RICHMOND, British Columbia - A small plane broke into pieces as it crashed on a city street while approaching Vancouver's airport Thursday afternoon, injuring all nine people aboard and someone on the ground. No one was killed.

Alyssa Polinsky, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health, said three people were rushed to Vancouver General Hospital in critical condition, while three more were stable.

She said another three people were taken to the nearby Richmond General Hospital with injuries that are considered non-life threatening.

A pedestrian was also sent to hospital after being struck by a flying object. The person's condition was unknown.

"We have everything from burns to fractures and back injuries," Polinsky said late Thursday in an interview, adding she had no information on any of the victims' identities.

The plane, a Beech King Air 100, can carry up to nine passengers.

The plane landed near a street leading to the airport, leaving large sections of the plane in the grassy median.

"The plane's basically broken in half, as far as I can see," said Graeme Wallace, who works at a nearby pilot supply store. He said about half of the plane was burning, but emergency crews put out the fire.

The plane was bound for Kelowna but turned around. An airport statement said the Vancouver Airport Authority went into emergency mode at 4:12 p.m. local time (2312 GMT).

Officials for the airport said the plane is operated by the British Columbia-based Northern Thunderbird Air.

A database run by the Flight Safety Foundation shows Northern Thunderbird Air had two deadly small-plane crashes in 1975 and 1977.

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