A plane has crashed into a shopping centre in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, shortly after take-off, killing the pilot and four American tourists on a golfing holiday.
The charter aircraft crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet in Essendon – which is next to the airport the plane took off from – about 45 minutes before it was due to open, police minister Lisa Neville said.
Police and paramedics rushed to the scene, where firefighters doused the huge flames caused by the crash.
Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane said: “Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt.”
The US embassy in Canberra said four victims were Americans, and Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch were identified by their families on social media as two of the victims. The pilot was Max Quartermain, owner of charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel.
The pilot reported a “catastrophic engine failure” moments before the plane crashed into a storage area at the rear of the mall, police said.