BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) _ Two small planes collided on a runway at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport Thursday, killing four people in a fiery explosion, officials said.
The single-engine planes each carried two people, said Pat Cariseo, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington.
A controller had cleared one of the planes for takeoff from one of the airport's two runways, Cariseo said. At the same time, the other plane requested permission to hold on the same runway, a normal procedure before taking off. Controllers granted the request.
What happened next is not immediately clear, Cariseo said. The planes, a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 172, collided at 10:37 a.m., airport spokesman Jim Naiman said.
"There was a big fire, so everyone went out there," said Rosalie Radtke, a secretary for Sarasota Avionics, located about a quarter-mile away. "All the guys saw was a big ball of fire."
The airport, about 50 miles south of Tampa, handles general aviation, domestic jet service and international charter flights. The airport handles 1.5 million passengers a year. Miami International Airport, by comparison, has about 34 million passengers a year.
Officials closed one runway after the crash, Naiman said.
Cariseo said NTSB investigators from Miami and Washington were en route to the crash site.
This was the second accident at the airport in 24 hours. A single-engine aircraft had trouble with its landing gear and belly landed at the airport Wednesday. There were no injuries in that incident.