Witnesses and officials said a light aircraft carrying five people crashed on Tuesday in a “massive fireball”, hitting a shopping center near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air.
The Beechcraft plane veered just after take-off into the shopping center, that had yet to open, next to Essendon airport.
“It’s too early to know whether there has been fatalities,” Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville told reporters.
Neville could not provide any casualty figures but confirmed five people were on board the private charter from Essendon, north of Melbourne, to King Island, 55 minutes to the south.
Live television footage showed burnout wreckage, flames and major damage at the shopping centre and adjacent buildings.
“It appears a light plane, which is a charter flight, has impacted the DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) at Essendon Fields,” Neville added.
A taxi driver called ABC radio and told of a “massive fireball”.
“I saw this plane … when it hit the building there was a massive fireball,” said the man who identified himself as Jason.