A charter flight crashed into an Australian shopping centre in Melbourne, killing five people.
Shortly after taking off from the small Essendon Airport, the light plane appeared to be experiencing an engine failure as reported by Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane.
The pilot tried to make a u-turn and return to the airport but was unfortunately unable.
It is believed that all the people on board died after the crash. “There were five on the aircraft and looks like no one has survived the crash,” said the police assistant commissioner.
No one at the shopping centre, which was yet to be opened for the general public, died from the crash. The only casualties are the ones who were onboard.
According to Daniel Andrews, the state premier, this is the worst civil aviation crash in 30 years and commended the emergency response group for having responded swiftly.
The airport and the shopping centre have both been closed indefinitely so that investigations can be finalized by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
The only groups allowed to fly are the police, ambulance, and firefighting planes.
The crash aftermath
Upon crashing, black smoke was sent into the air and led to a large blaze that needed over 60 fighters to effectively combat it.
Three nearby schools have all been shut down as well as the adjacent Tullamarine Freeway after debris of the plane’s wheel was found on the road.
According to one witness by the name Mikey Cahill, who spoke to the Herald Sun, the explosion may have risen “30m [100ft] high and ballooned upwards in red and black.”
Another witness, Daniel May, said he was waiting for the shopping centre to open when the plane came down.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull extended his condolence to the affected families, stating that he is “deeply saddened”.
The victims will be offered psychological support to the emergency responders as well as the crash witnesses. Craig Lapsley, the emergency management commissioner, said that the government had drawn a lot of lessons from the Bourke Street on the need to manage trauma.
According to tweets posted on Twitter by some witnesses, they saw a large fireball followed by a plume of black smoke.
Bill Shorten wrote on his Twitter account: “Horrific scenes from Essendon. Hard to fathom such an ordinary morning could turn so tragic.”
One caller to ABC Melbourne said that he was driving in a taxi and upon looking through the window, he saw what he could have likened to a twin-propeller plane.
The plane was coming down at such a great speed. He didn’t see the impact on the ground but there was a “massive fireball” the moment it hit the building.
“I could feel the heat through the window of the taxi, and then a wheel, it looked like a plane wheel, bounced on the road and hit the front of the taxi as we were driving along. We kept driving and there was big fireball behind us.”