At least three injured in US Navy plane crash
At least three people were injured when a US Navy F-18 jet crashed just minutes after takeoff on Friday into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach, south of Washington, DPA reported.
Bruce Nedelka, division chief of the Virginia Beach emergency services, told CNN that he believed two of the injured had been on the ground at the time of the crash and the third person was a pilot who had ejected shortly before the crash.
None of the injuries were life-threatening, he said.
Televised images showed the smoking ruins of five buildings that Virginia Beach fire chief Tim Reilly said housed an estimated 40 apartments.
Reilly told CNN that there had been "significant damage" to the five buildings.
The crash occurred just before 12:30 pm (1630 GMT), according to local broadcaster WAVY. Commander Phil Rosi of the Naval Air Force Atlantic confirmed that both pilots, who were on a training flight, were able to eject and had survived.
The pilots apparently landed near the crash site, and one of them was still in his seat, according to Pat Kavanaugh, a rescue worker who helped the pilot disengage from the seat.
The pilot apologized for crashing into the residences, Kavanaugh said in broadcast remarks. The apartments, known as the Mayfair Mews, are just blocks from a finger of water that laces the beachfront.
Reilly, the fire chief, speaking about an hour after the crash, said that he had not received any reports of missing persons. He said it would take a "long while" to do a detailed search of the five buildings.
The pilots apparently discharged much of their fuel before the crash, a move that Nedelka said spared the crash site from greater damage.
"The pilots did a tremendous job, dumping the fuel," he said in a television interview. "The impact and subsequent fire damage would have been intense. What he did was wonderful."