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A twin-engine turboprop commuter plane crashed Tuesday night about three miles from the airport where it was preparing to land, killing at least eight of the 15 people on board, officials said.

A Western New York doctor was on the plane, according to officials at Women and Children's Hospital.

Dr. Richard T. Sarkin, 54, of Amherst, a pediatrician at the hospital, is believed to be one of five missing, sources told The News.

At least two people survived the crash in the woods and were being treated at a hospital, said Adair County Chief Deputy Larry Logston.

The American Airlines-affiliated Corporate Airlines flight from St. Louis was carrying 13 passengers and two crew members, both of whom died, Logston said.

The last communication from the Jetstream 32 indicated it was on a normal approach to Kirksville Regional Airport in northeastern Missouri, and there was no mention of any problems, authorities said.

Logston said he did not know whether the plane's flight data and voice recorders had been recovered.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. Thunderstorms were reported in the area at the time the plane went down.

Emergency crews found the fuselage engulfed in flames and largely intact, with the wings broken off, Logston said. All eight of those known dead were found in the fuselage, some still in their seats and the two crew members in the cockpit area, he said.

A female survivor was walking around when rescuers arrived, and a male survivor was found in brush near the fuselage.

A photographer who arrived at the same time as police said a woman told the emergency workers that she had been in the plane and that "it came apart before it hit the ground."

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