US Navy jet crashes06/04/2012 - 18:18:47
Two US navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet before it ripped into a Virginia apartment complex and engulfed at least one building in flames.
Local officials reported three people were injured, including the pilot, but said there were no deaths. The navy said both people on the jet were taken to hospital for observation.
TV stations showed dozens of emergency vehicles in the densely populated neighbourhood near the Atlantic Ocean as fire crews sprayed still-smoking buildings, some of them with their roofs torn away.
One crew doused the jet’s wreckage with foam to try to contain any potential spill of jet fuel.
The area has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base. The jet was assigned to Naval Air Station Oceana.
Witness Pat Kavanaugh told TV station WTKR that he talked with one of the pilots after the crash and checked his body for injuries, saying he was in shock but was okay.
Edna Lukens, who was across the street from the crash, said a senior citizens’ community was across the street and people were trying to help them evacuate. She said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.
“We heard this loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky. Then the flames started going up in the sky, and then the apartment building just started burning and the police was called and everybody came out,” she said.
Sean Pepe and Kenny Carver told The Daily Press of Portsmouth that the jet appeared to be “floating” before it went down.
“It was odd, but we didn’t think anything of it,” Mr Pepe told the newspaper. “We were watching the plane but didn’t see the impact. We saw it go down and there was a ’boom’. Then there was black smoke everywhere.”
An official said it appeared the navy pilots dumped fuel from the fighter jet before it crashed into the apartment complex, and it likely prevented the resulting fire from being far worse.
Bruce Nedelka, who is the Virginia Beach emergency services chief, said that witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.
Mr Nedelka said the move likely prevented what could have been a massive fireball.
He said the fire has been put out, and crews are searching the buildings for anyone who may have been inside.
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