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At least 8 killed in Minn. small jet crash

Image: Plane crash
Wreckage from the crash of a small jet in Owatonna, Minn., on Thursday. The crash killed at least eight people who were traveling on business from Atlantic City, N.J.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A small jet crashed in strong thunderstorms Thursday while preparing to land at a regional airport, killing at least eight people, including several casino and construction executives.

Sheriff Gary Ringhofer said there were at most nine people aboard the Raytheon Hawker 800, which went down at a regional airport about 60 miles south of Minneapolis. He said investigators were looking into whether there was a passenger who is unaccounted for.

Seven people were dead at the scene. One died later at a hospital.

Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans told The Associated Press that those on board included two high-ranking executives from Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino project in Atlantic City, and several employees of Tishman Construction. He didn't know their identities, but said Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis was not on board. Tishman is helping with the Revel project, a company spokesman said.

'Mourning the loss'
Lauren Avellino Turton, a spokeswoman for Revel, confirmed in a written statement that several company employees were killed in the crash, although she didn't identify those killed or say how many were on board.

"Revel is mourning the loss of several of its team members," the statement read. "The design team was heading to Minnesota for a glass manufacturing meeting."

The charter jet, flying from Atlantic City, N.J., to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, scattering debris, Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible to reporters because tall corn obscured the crash site.

Severe weather
The crash happened as severe weather battered parts of southern Minnesota. An hour before the accident, a 72-mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.

The Owatonna People's Press reported the plane was carrying customers to Viracon Inc., an Owatonna-based glass company.

Mary Ann Jackson, a spokeswoman for Viracon's parent company Apogee Enterprises Inc., confirmed to the AP that those on board were Viracon customers, but declined to provide any other details. She said no Viracon employees were involved in the crash.