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Small plane crashes into Austin office building – was it intentional?

Witnesses say the single-engine plane appeared to accelerate before crashing into the seven-story building, where IRS employees, among others, worked.

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Smoke billows from a seven-story building after a small private plane crashed into a building that contains a local branch of the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas on Thursday.

Jack Plunkett/AP

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A small airplane appears to have been intentionally crashed into a suburban Austin, Texas., office building that contains a local branch of the Internal Revenue Service, unnamed federal officials told the Associated Press.

Authorities in Austin sought to quell any concerns that the city was under attack or in any further danger, saying at a news briefing Thursday afternoon that the incident was contained.

"Categorically ... there is no cause for concern from a law-enforcement or a terrorism perspective," Austin Police Chief Chief Art Acevedo said at the briefing.

Authorities reported that so far two people had been taken to the hospital with injuries and that one person was unaccounted for. The building had not been completely extinguished even as the news briefing was under way, and officials said the search for any casualties would continue as first responders gained access to more of it.

Employees from several US government agencies – including the Internal Revenue Service – work there. Early news reports indicate that the man suspected of piloting the aircraft may have been targeting the IRS or, at least, the federal government.

One eyewitness reported that the aircraft was flying low above nearby apartment buildings about 10 a.m. Thursday local time before colliding with the building, sending a large fireball into the air. He told a local CBS reporter the plane was operating “smooth as could be” just before flying into the seven-story office building.

Other witnesses reported that the aircraft appeared to accelerate before hitting the building, which is about 15 miles from the nearest airfield.

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