Singer Aaliyah dies in plane crash

In another tragic loss in the world of entertainment, singer and actress Aaliyah was killed Saturday when the Miami-bound Cessna passenger plane she was traveling in crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off from Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas’ Abaco islands..

Along with five other passengers, the 22-year-old R&B star was killed on impact, superintendent Basil Rahming of the Grand Bahama police department told Reuters, while two others died very soon after. One man, who was critically injured at the scene, was flown to Miami early Sunday by air ambulance but later passed away due to his injuries.

In all, nine people–seven men and two women–were killed, all U.S. residents.

Aaliyah, who had sold a million copies of her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number in 1994 and currently had a hit single “Try Again,” was on the Bahamian island completing a music video.

The Bahamas’ Minister of Tourism Tommy Turnquest told the Associated Press, “We find it devastating and most unfortunate that after having this world-famous star Aaliyah and her crew select the Bahamas as their choice location for her latest video, the project has climaxed on such a tragic note.”

Rahming told Reuters the twin-engine propeller plane apparently suffered engine failure on take-off and crashed into bushes about 200 feet from the end of the runway, bursting immediately into flames. The eight people that were pronounced dead at the crash site will be flown to Nassau for autopsies before being taken to the U.S.

Gloria Knowles, who works for Abaco Air Ltd. at the Marsh Harbour airport, told that the baggage handlers reported the plane was overloaded with suitcases. Both the handlers and the pilot complained about the weight, but the passengers insisted on taking everything with them.

Since the plane was operated by a U.S. company, the investigation into the cause of the crash would likely include the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board.

Aaliyah made her debut film performance in last year’s Romeo Must Die with martial arts star Jet Li. She was also to appear in the sequel to the smash hit The Matrix and starred in the big screen adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel Queen of the Damned, due for release next spring.

Quincy Jones, the Grammy-winning producer, arranger and composer, was Aaliyah‘s good friend. He told he was devastated by her death.

“She was like one of my daughters; she was one of the sweetest girls in the world. She vacationed with me and my family together in Fiji. I loved her and respected her and I am absolutely devastated.”