NASA declared an emergency after losing communication with space shuttle Columbia as the craft soared over Texas several minutes before its expected landing Saturday. 

The shuttle was carrying seven astronauts including the first Israeli in space. Fifteen minutes after the expected landing time, and with no word from the shuttle, NASA announced that search and rescue teams were being mobilized in Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

Images of the shuttle aired on CNN showed several white trails emanating from the shuttle which appeared to be breaking up as well as subsequent fragments on the ground in wide areas of Texas.


NASA Statements on Shuttle Disaster