Small plane crashes into shopping mall in Melbourne, killing 5
PUBLISHED Mon, February 20, 2017 - 5:21pm EST
A small plane has crashed into a shopping mall near an airport in the Australian city of Melbourne, killing the pilot and four American tourists, local officials say. The cause of the crash was not immediately known. (more)
The accident happened just before 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday when parts of the aircraft slammed into the DFO shopping mall, which is located near the end of a runway at Essendon Airport. Most of the plane crashed in a parking lot at the mall.
A total of five people - one Australian pilot and four American citizens - were on board the Beechcraft Super King Air aircraft, which crashed while attempting to take off for a flight to King Island, where the tourists were heading for a golfing vacation.
The accident happened only an hour before the shopping mall was scheduled to open and all of the employees who were already inside the complex were safely evacuated, though some of them were treated for shock. All five occupants of the plane were killed on impact.
Aerial footage showed a plane wreckage engulfed in flames close to the mall, but fires and damage were also visible on the roof of the shopping mall. Dozens of firefighters responded to the scene and worked to extinguish the fire.
Although the exact cause of the accident is still under investigation, a Victoria Police spokesman said it may have involved a "catastrophic" engine fire. "It gained [some] altitude before crashing into the back of the DFO and Focus on Furniture," he said.