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BREAKING: Plane or Chopper Crash on E. 71 St

There are reports of that a plane or helicopter has crashed into a building on 71st and York on the Upper East Side, according to WNBC, "causing explosions." A tipster says it is the Belaire Condo at 524 E. 72nd. [Photo courtesy Curbed phototipster Donald Shoup, taken from 30th floor of Eastwinds Condo at 80th and First Ave.]

UPDATE I: Per the AP Wire: "A column of gray smoke rose over the city, and raging flames could be seen in four windows on two upper floors." Reports of falling debris.

UPDATE II: Details on The Belaire via CityRealty: "This 50-story condominium tower is one of the most attractive on the Upper East Side. Designed by Frank Williams and Associates for a development team headed by William Zeckendorf Jr., the tower's red-brick façade is a nicely modeled slab, vaguely reminiscent of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Its top culminates in several setbacks that give it a distinct and asymmetrical look." [See also Curbed's further report on the building, including links to three apartments for sale therein.]

UPDATE III: Jake from Gothamist IMs us that they've got "people on the scene." Coverage here.

UPDATE IV: A tipster points out that this is indeed very close to yesterday's Development Du Jour, The Miraval. For what that's worth.

UPDATE V: A more complete AP account: "There's huge pieces of debris falling," said one witness who refused to give her full name. "There's so much falling now, I've got to get away." A special Curbed correspondent reports live: "I'm on the scene...THICK THICK smoke - there is a ton of smoke billowing up - both black and white - it's ugly."

UPDATE VI: As one can always expect when breaking news actually matters, NY1's website is inaccessible. WNBC, on the other hand, has a hazy slideshow of images from their copter.

UPDATE VII: Confirmation: it was a helicopter that crashed into the building. Reports WCBS, "There is word that a helicopter was seen flying near the area on an apparent photography tour, but there is NO confirmation that that is the aircraft which collided into the building." Er, no: per the FAA, it was a plane. The building is located on the boundary between unregulated air space and a La Guardia flight path. NORAD has put defense jets around "numerous major citites."

UPDATE VIII: Curbed's on-scene correspondent texts at 3:41pm: "Seems like the heavy smoke that came out that was coming out of the building 30 mins ago has stopped. The streets are packed - half the people going towards it. 1st Ave is blocked. 70 - 73rd blocked off. The HazMat unit is out." Word is there are 168 firefighters on the scene; no terrorism tie.

UPDATE IX: Here come the Flickr photos from the scene. Separately, PropertyShark sends along a view of The Belaire before the crash; it's after the jump.

UPDATE X: Gawker has stunning crash pics, as does Gothamist (scroll down).

UPDATE XI: Curbed's on-scene correspondent texts at 4:01pm: "All of the people that were residents are standing outside our building right now. First ave is just completely blocked. It seems that most of the people are out of the building and everyone is in shock. Mary Higgins Clark lives in the building - who knew. The rain is picking up."

UPDATE XII: Holy shit. Deadspin reports that the plane was registered to Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. CNN says he was in the plane (piloting?) at the time of the crash.

UPDATE XIII: Lidle confirmed as pilot; Mayor Bloomberg says there was a passenger with him, too. Deadspin now has a photo of Lidle with his plane (left), and this link to a NYTimes piece from last month about his obsession with planes.

UPDATE XIV: Curbed's on-scene correspondent reports at 5:50pm: "First ave traffic is moving. 70-73, 1st - > closed. Still a heavy police presence but the rain has driven those people back indoors. Hazmat stuff gone."