Melbourne: Small aircraft crashes into shops, 5 dead

The Australian Safety Transport Bureau said it had sent investigators to the scene.

Melbourne: Small aircraft crashes into shops, 5 dead

A light aircraft exploded on Tuesday leading to the death of 5 people onboard as it smashed into a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne.

According to the AFP report, the Beechcraft plane veered just after take-off into the shopping centre, that was still closed, next to Essendon Fields airport.



"Five on the aircraft and looks like no-one has survived the crash," said Victoria police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane. She further described it as the worst air accident in the state in 3 decades.


The private charter from Essendon, north of Melbourne, to King Island, 55 minutes to the south, came down just short of a major motorway packed with the heavy traffic of early morning commuters.

The television reports showed burned out wreckage, flames and major damage at the shopping centre and adjacent buildings. The witnesses were quoted as saying that a column of thick black smoke rose into the air with the explosion.



The centre was not due to open for another hour and the authorities confirmed no one inside was hurt.Victoria police superintendent Mick Frewen said investigations centred on a "catastrophic engine failure". The flight made a May-Day call before crashing, he added.

Melbourne fire brigade chief Paul Stacchino tweeted that "more than 60 firefighters have worked hard to bring the fire ... under control. Crews to remain on scene for some time."

The Australian Safety Transport Bureau said it had sent investigators to the scene. Essendon Fields had been closed and all traffic diverted to Melbourne's two larger airports Tullamarine and Avalon. One side of a major freeway which runs alongside the local airport remained shut to allow wreckage to be cleared.