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Aaliyah's private plane was leaving the Marsh Harbour airport on Abaco Island in the Bahamas at about 6:50 p.m. Saturday night for its destination of Opa-Locka, FL, when it crashed at the end of the runway.


22-Year-Old Virgin R&B Singer/Actress Is Killed Aboard A Small Plane After Takeoff
R&B singer/actress Aaliyah was killed Saturday night (8/25) when a small plane that was carrying her and eight others back to the U.S. crashed after takeoff in the Bahamas. There were no survivors. Also among the victims was Doug Kratz, who worked for Virgin Records, Aaliyah's label, as well as Blackground's Gina Smith and Keith Wallace.

The 22-year-old Grammy-nominated singer had released her self-titled debut for the Blackground/Virgin label on July 17; it went to #2 in its first week on the charts.

Aaliyah was on the island filming a video for the song "Rock Da Boat," which she'd begun shooting in Miami.

Virgin released a statement Sunday afternoon. It read: "The worldwide Virgin family is devastated by the news of this terrible and tragic accident and our hearts and thoughts go out to all those families who lost loved ones.

"Aaliyah, one of the world's brightest and most talented stars, will be mourned by all who loved her and loved her music. Her depth and versatility as an artist was matched by the passion and devotion she had for her craft.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Virgin staff member Doug Kratz. Doug was an extremely dedicated and talented professional, whose enthusiasm, energy and spirit will be missed by everyone who worked alongside him everyday," the statement concluded.

Aaliyah's family issued a statement today that they were "devastated at the loss of [our] loving daughter and sister. [Our] hearts go out to those families who also lost their loved ones in this tragic accident."

Blackground also mourned the passing of "our Queen": "The example she showed young people will be sorely missed and we hope her short time on earth will be an inspiration to young people all over the world. We are equally distraught by the passing of our Blackground family members Gina Smith and Keith Wallace. Their hard work and dedication were an invaluable contribution to the success of Aaliyah and Blackground. Our prayers go out to all the families."

"We find it devastating and most unfortunate that after having this world-famous star and her crew select the Bahamas as their choice location for her latest video, the project has climaxed on such a tragic note," said the island's Minister of Tourism Tommy Turnquest.

Aaliyah's private plane was leaving the Marsh Harbour airport on Abaco Island in the Bahamas at about 6:50 p.m. Saturday night for its destination of Opa-Locka, FL, when it crashed at the end of the runway. Marsh Harbour is about 100 miles north of Nassau. Chief Councilor Silbert Mills said two women and six men were killed. After the crash, the twisted twin-engine aircraft rested about 75 yards from the end of the runway in a marsh. Workers carried away badly burned bodies and laid them nearby. Pieces of the plane were scattered about the site. "I pulled one guy from the aircraft and he was screaming," said Mills. "He was in a lot of pain."

Aaliyah's song, "Try Again," earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist. She made her feature acting debut in the film, Romeo Must Die. She had also signed on to appear in two sequels to The Matrix and just completed filming the sequel to Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire. The singer recently switched labels from Blackground/Atlantic to Blackground/Virgin, where she became part of the latter's troika of divas, including Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, who was recently hospitalized as the result of a nervous breakdown.

Quincy Jones told the N.Y. Times he was "absolutely devastated" by the news of Aaliyah's death. "She was like one of my daughters, one of the sweetest girls in the world. She vacationed with me and my family together in Fiji. I loved and respected her."

Island native Derek Russell, who worked on the video shoot, got the artist's autograph shortly before the accident. "She's a nice, friendly girl."

The cause of the crash was not determined, though U.S. FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the plane was a Cessna 402 owned by Skystream, a company based in Pembroke Pines, FL. Initial news reports indicated the plane might have been over its weight limit due to the passengers' luggage.