Three killed in F/A-18 fighter crash in San Diego
A US F/A-18 fighter jet crashed Monday into a neighbourhood in San Diego, California, killing at least three people and damaging two homes in the densely populated area, authorities said, dpa reported.
The pilot of the Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet was trying to land at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training mission, when the jet went down about 3 kilometres north-west of the airfield, Marine Corps Corporal Francis Goch said.
Reports said that the fighter had taken off from an aircraft carrier and was attempting to land with one engine when it dropped like a stone into the tranquil neighbourhood.
San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman first confirmed two people on the ground were killed. Goch said that the pilot ejected safely from the plane and was receiving medical attention.
The Los Angeles Times, citing officials, said later that a third body was found in the rubble of a house. A fourth resident was still missing.
Television images showed a thick pall of white smoke rising from the houses and a tangled heap of wreckage in the tree-lined street. Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion seconds before the crash, indicating that the pilot had ejected.
San Diego police spokeswoman Monica Munoz said there were no munitions on the aircraft.
"The first thing I heard was an explosion like a gunshot, which was the pilot ejecting, followed seconds later by the crash," local resident Ben Dishman told broadcaster MSNBC. He estimated that the plane had hit two or three houses.
The pilot was returning to Miramar after landing and take-off exercises on the USS Abraham Lincoln. The aircraft was a two-seater, but only one pilot was aboard.
The Navy and Marine Corps fly the F/A-18, which is the main aircraft for the Navy's Blue Angels air show squadron. Miramar, about 16 kilometres north of downtown San Diego, was featured in the 1986 hit film Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.