Many Feared Dead in Madrid Plane Fire

A Spanish passenger plane crashed on takeoff from Madrid's Barajas International Airport Wednesday.

According to the airport authority and local media reports, the Spanair plane shot off the runway near Terminal 4.

Officials told The Associated Press that 153 people onboard the aircraft had been killed.

A Spanish emergency rescue official told the AP that 26 people survived the crash, and the rest of those onboard had been given up for dead. The official with the SAMUR municipal rescue service gave the toll after touring the site of the crash.

Earlier today, Spain's El Mundo newspaper reported that 150 people had been killed in the crash, and another 20 were believed to be critically injured.

Picture of person on a stretcher.

Spanair spokesman Sergio Allard told a news conference the plane was carrying 175 people and the cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Spanish newspaper El Pais said the the plane had been an hour late taking off due to technical problems. The plane eventually managed to get slightly off the ground but crashed near the end of the runway, El Pais said, quoting an employee of the national airport authority AENA.

Helicopters and fire trucks dumped water on the plane, which ended up in a wooded area at the end of the runway.

A makeshift morgue was set up at the city's main convention center, officials said.

According to El Mundo, so far, between 20 and 30 people have been evacuated from the plane, some of them in critical condition. One of the people wounded is now believed to have died on the way to the hospital.

At La Paz hospital in Madrid, many of the wounded are said to be suffering third-degree burns. A hospital spokesman told ABC News that six people had been admitted to the hospital.

Ambulances are continuing to arrive at that hospital, and at the Ramon y Cajal hospital next door, carrying passengers who are seriously wounded.

The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón Jiménez are both making their way to the scene.

According to eyewitness reports from the El Pais Web site, "The plane was all broken and bodies were everywhere."

"I have not seen something like that in my life," said Luis Ferreras, chief of one of the ambulance posts sent to the accident site. There are now 60 ambulances on this location, according to El Pais.

Scotsman Allan Gemmell witnessed the crash, as he was on a neighboring plane.

"Most people, because they just saw the smoke, they didn't do much -- they thought a field was on fire," Gemmell told ABC News.

"When people realized something had happened, they started to phone people," he recalled, adding, "You could see a lot of worry on people's faces."

According to initial reports, the Spanair plane skid off the runway before crashing into the buses parked on the perimeter road.

El Mundo reported that one of the plane's engines may have caught fire on takeoff. Nearly two hours after it caught fire, firefighters were still attempting to extinguish the fire. Eleven fire engines have been dispatched to the scene of the accident.

El Mundo reported that the plane, which may still have people inside it, had split into two parts.

Flight JKK 5022 was bound for Las Palmas in the Grand Canary Islands. The BBC reported that a lot of the people onboard the aircraft were families with young children.

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