A hiss, the engine on fire, the vehicle losing pieces, then the impact that made the windows of the houses tremble, “like a bomb”. This is how the witnesses described the moments before and after the crash of a small plane in Milan. A Piper PC-12 crashed in via Marignano at the corner of via 8 ottobre 2001 a Milano, in the southwestern area of the city bordering San Donato Milanese, shortly after take off from Linate airport. On board the aircraft were eight people: the pilot, the co-pilot, five adults and a child, all dead. Several firefighters, police, carabinieri and 118 personnel arrived on the spot. The small plane – a Pilatus PC12, single-engine turboprop – fortunately fell on an empty building, a bus station under construction, at the yellow metro station parking San Donato. The workers would be at work on Monday.
FIRE FIGHTERS: “DEVASTATING IMPACT” – The Piper, some cars and the building – which was just empty at the time – went in flames. The aircraft – which took off from Linate at 13.04 – would have rapidly lost altitude until it hit the structure. Three minutes of flight, the time to travel 19 km and reach an altitude of one thousand meters, then a slowdown and impact. The plane, with pilots and seven passengers on board, was headed for Sardinia, in Olbia. The 118 operations center, alerted by several phone calls, sent helicopter rescue, self-medical assistance and four ambulances to the site. Unfortunately, there was nothing to do for the passengers. The victims are all foreigners.
“The impact was devastating – he explained Carlo Cardinali, an official of the Milan fire brigade – extremely violent, there was a real explosion, with the projection of this aircraft at various points. The plane made a turn after take-off and therefore the pilot probably noticed some anomaly. The building was uninhabited, among other things affected by renovations so we immediately averted the presence of other people inside the structure. At that point it was really important – he added – that there were no houses, in the drama the impact occurred on a totally uninhabited structure “.
WITNESSES: “ENGINE ON FLAME”, “THE WINDOWS SHAKEN” – The locals felt like a very loud hiss and then an explosion caused by the impact, other witnesses instead saw the flames even before the crash. The fire immediately enveloped the two-storey building a few steps from the Eni headquarters in San Donato and from the terminus of the yellow metro in Milan. Flames that were extinguished by the firefighters who then began the operations to secure the building and to be able to “extract” the vehicle from the heart of the building.
“The plane had a burning engine and it swooped down, no maneuvers were seen, but it really crashed” said some witnesses who witnessed the accident. One boy spoke of “propellers that stopped, then I felt the windows shake and, like in the movies, I went to the window and saw a column of smoke rise ”. Shocked by the owner of the pizzeria located in via Marignano: “We first heard a roar coming from above. Then we heard an explosion, it looked like a bomb, and the earth that trembled. We were the first to rush to the place, everything was burning. I am shocked because I have seen the body of a child ”. A 19-year-old young man witnessed the impact: “I saw a plane lose control, I saw it just as it crashed. I saw him swoop down. The plane was low. And then a lot of smoke, the flames. Pieces were flying in the sky. I was very scared Then the police and carabinieri arrived. Fortunately the road was free, there was no one“. “I heard this very loud noise, then a wake and there was smoke and flames under the flying plane which then crashed into the building. Surely – says a 40-year-old who was waiting for the bus in the square next to the building against which the plane crashed – the pilot realized what was happening ”.
INQUIRY FOR MANUAL DISASTER – The plane crashed on the roof of the building on the corner of via 8 ottobre 2001, so named to commemorate the Linate massacre when a resident of San Donato also died among the 118 victims of the plane crash. The deputy prosecutor from Milan also arrived on the spot, Tiziana Siciliano. “A dossier for culpable disaster will be opened” explained the head of the health, environmental and labor protection department of the Milan prosecutor’s office after the first findings on the scene of the accident. Siciliano further added that the black box was found. The National Agency for Flight Safety (ANSV) has opened an investigation into the accident and ordered the dispatch of an investigator on the spot. The videos of the surveillance cameras were acquired “which captured the moment, a few seconds, of the impact” explained Siciliano at the end of an inspection together with the prosecutor on duty today Giovanna Cavalleri. “You see the blaze on impact. Now we must also acquire all the necessary documentation to reconstruct the dynamics of the disaster. At the moment it is too early for any speculation ”about what caused the crash. “We know – added the prosecutor – that the flight was followed up to a certain point. Then some anomaly occurred in the radar track and then it crashed“. The plane actually “impacted on the roof” of the building and from the board “no alarm signal went off.” Considering that near the place of the tragedy there is the subway and the bus station observed that “the accident could have had far more dramatic consequences ”. At the scene of the accident also the mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala and the mayor of San Donato Milanese Andrea Checchi.
THE VICTIMS – The victims are all foreign nationals. Dan Petrescu, owner and pilot of the plane, was considered one of the richest men in Romania. He was 68, dual citizenship of Germany and Romania, and was a major investor in the real estate sector in his country. Among the victims, the 30-year-old son, Dan Stefan Petrescu, initially indicated as driving the plane, born in Munich and also with dual citizenship, and his wife, 65, born in Romania with French citizenship. With them five other people still to be identified, including the child probably a few years old.