A charter plane crashed into a Melbourne shopping complex Tuesday morning killing all five people on board and sparking a massive blaze.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane confirmed no one on board the plane survived the tragedy, but declined to give details of the victims. Assistant Commissioner Leane said it is believed there were no fatalities apart from those in the plane.
The Beechcraft King Air, five-person charter flight to King Island crashed soon after take off from Essendon Airport in the city’s north at 9:00am.
The pilot was aged in his 60s and his four passengers were American tourists, Channel Seven reported.
The Advocate newspaper in Tasmania quoted a source on King Island as saying the plane was carrying golfers. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to confirm any details of the passengers’ identities.
“We are currently reaching out to their families to provide them with the support that they need to try to comfort them at what must be just such a horrible moment,” he told a media conference.
Australian Corporate Jet Centres told the ABC the plane is now operated by boutique private charter flight operator Corporate and Leisure Aviation based at Essendon airport.
The plane called mayday as it was taking off and Victoria Police Superintendent Mick Frewen said it appeared to be affected by a “catastrophic engine failure”.
The plane crashed into the back of two shops, Focus on Furniture and JB Hi Fi, he said.
Police are yet to release any details of possible casualties. More than 16 fire crews fought to put out the blaze at the DFO factory outlet complex near Bulla Rd in Essendon Fields.
“It appears a light plane, which is a charter flight, has impacted the DFO [shopping centre] at Essendon Fields. “There’s also debris that’s been left on the [Tullamarine] freeway.”
Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley told a media conference Essendon Airport would be closed until further notice while the investigation into the cause of the crash get underway.
He said in-bound lanes of the Tullamarine Freeway would remain closed for a number of hours until that can be cleared and evidence collected evidence for the investigation.