(Updates with details from witnesses)
By Michelle McLoughlin and Richard Weizel
EAST HAVEN, Connecticut, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Two bodies were found after a small plane crashed into two houses in East Haven, Connecticut, on Friday, and the death toll could rise, Governor Dannel Malloy said.
Emergency workers had "visuals" on two bodies in the basement of one of the houses, the governor told reporters at a press conference near the scene.
Residents said later Friday afternoon that emergency workers removed two body bags on stretchers from the house.
The twin-engine propeller plane had taken off from New Jersey Friday morning and had been attempting to land at Tweed New Haven Airport, about 40 miles south of Hartford (67 km), in rainy weather when it crashed around 11:25 ET.
East Haven Deputy Fire Chief Tony Moscato said officials initially believed that at least three people, including a pilot and two children in one of the houses, were missing.
Emergency crews were not yet certain if there were other people on the plane with the pilot, and the destruction at the scene made the workers' job more difficult, the governor said.
"This is a disaster site," Malloy said. "There's a lot of damage."
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene.
Police cordoned off the area, where smoke could be seen rising from between the houses, and pieces of the plane's wing and tail were visible in the wreckage. Part of the roof of one of the houses had collapsed.
Angela Wordie, a neighbor, said she was outside on her backyard deck when she saw the plane above her house.
"I knew right away the plane was in big trouble," said Wordie, who described the plane as sounding "loud, like a helicopter."
Another neighbor, David Esposito, 54, said he rushed into one of the stricken houses after seeing the plane crash.
"When I ran into the house, the mother was screaming that her children were upstairs, so I ran up to their room and when I saw a crib I really freaked out," said Esposito. "But they weren't there."
Esposito said he then ran downstairs and the mother pointed to another room, where he found the front of the plane engulfed in flames. "Again, I looked for the kids, but couldn't find them. Then there was a big burst of fire and I knew we had to get out of there."
Esposito said he and another neighbor forced the mother out of the house, just as the car in the driveway also burst into flames and heavy smoke filled the area. (Writing and additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by David Gregorio, Gary Hill)