LONDON -- Witnesses to the crash of a Pan Am jumbo jet in the Scottish town of Lockerbie Wednesday described an 'almighty roar' and a 'ball of fire' 300 feet high, then burning homes and a huge crater in the ground.
A number of people on the ground said they saw flames coming from the aircraft before it crashed on a flight from Heathrow Airport in London to Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
Witnesses told the British Broadcasting Corporation and Border Television in Scotland they saw the plane slam into a gasoline station and several homes, with a large piece of the aircraft landing on the main road from England to Glasgow.
'There was an almighty roar,' said John Glasgow, who was driving on the highway where the plane came down.
'There was a lot of smoking debris and fire, it looked as if the road was burning ... it looks to me as if the people in the houses wouldn't have any chance of getting out.'
One unidentified motorist told Cable News Network, 'The whole sky lit up completely with just a red flash. From that there was a ball of fire that went 300 feet in the air and mushroomed out.'
'We didn't think there would be anybody left from the plane,' he said, adding the crash gouged a 'crater 50-foot deep and maybe 170 yards long ... There's nothing in that. It's just burning.'
Another young man who was driving into town told CNN he saw a tremendous flash, 'like something exploded in the sky,' followed by a second blast after the plane slammed into the ground.
'We could see houses on fire everywhere,' he said.
Employees of a hotel near the crash site said they initially believed a local factory had exploded.
'We initially heard a rumbling over the hotel,' witness Graham Byerley said. 'We thought the roof was falling in, and then we heard a tremendous shudder on the ground, as if an earthquake. Then we saw sparks, then this enormous ball of flames going about 200 or 300 feet into the air. There was debris flying everywhere.'