Observer first in the world to report AA crash

Friday, December 25, 2009

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TUESDAY night's near brush with disaster by American Airlines Flight 331, which ploughed through the perimeter fencing of the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and crash-landed close to the sea, not only caused the eyes of the international community to be trained on Jamaica but also brought many news hounds to the doors of the Observer.



The newspaper, which was literally first on the ground when the incident occurred, was alerted to the crash by its operations manager, Keith Barnes, who happened to be on location and instantly contacted Vernon Davidson, the Observer's executive editor in charge of publications, who set the wheels in motion.



Lifestyle co-ordinator Roland Henry, who filed the Observer's story, contributed to an audio report for the BBC which the news giant carried on its website, along with a link to the paper's homepage. The first published photo from the crash was captured by the Observer's Naphtali Junior and was carried on BBC and CNN, which sought permission to use the item.



Several other international media houses, including ABC, MSNBC, CBS, CBC in Canada, Al Jazeera in the Middle East, as well as the Toronto Star also sought assistance from Observer reporters to help in coining their own stories, while others such as the Miami Herald online and foxnews.com referred to the Observer story which was first posted online on its 'Breaking News' ticker at 11:33 pm, alerting the world to the crash.



Up to yesterday, local and international investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the incident.



One hundred passengers were reported injured when the plane crashed and broke in three after landing at the airport shortly after 10:00 Tuesday night. The Boeing 737-800 had just arrived from Miami in pouring rain with 148 passengers and a crew of six when the incident occurred.



Most of the injuries were classified as lacerations and blood trauma. A few fractures of long bones and ribs were also reported. On Thursday, a statement from the Ministry of Health said that 13 of the 14 passengers who were admitted to hospital have since been released.



For the Observer, it was the fourth time since the start of the year that the newspaper was catapulted into the eyes of the international media -- first in April through its coverage of the hijacking of a CanJet airplane bound for Canada at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James. The newspaper's front page was also rated among the world's top 10 twice this year for its coverage of the death of pop star Michael Jackson in June and the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, in August.





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