A Navy F/A-18 jet crashed on Friday, April 6, into an apartment complex near Virginia Beach, Va., setting several buildings on fire and injuring at least six people.
The aircraft had taken off from the training facility at Naval Air Base Oceana, just four miles northeast of Mayfair Mews Apartments, where it crashed. The pilots, who were both taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, lost control of the plane and were unable to steer it away from the buildings, though they parachuted out of the aircraft before the collision.
The latest reports site that six people in total have been taken to hospital, including four people who were on the ground when the plane crashed, though none of the injuries have been reported as life-threatening.
According to a witness, Zack Zapatero, the jet crashed into a building occupied by senior citizens.
"There's these large fire balls coming up," Zapatero told CNN. "I was told there was a bunch of senior citizens that live in that building, which worries me a lot.
"Buildings were starting to collapse," he added.
Pat Kavanaugh, a retired rescue squad member who lives in one of the surrounding buildings, was one of the first at the scene of the crash.
"I saw a pilot on the ground with a parachute hanging from the building, with facial lacerations," Kavanaugh explained to CNN affiliate WTKR . "He was in shock and still strapped to his seat."
Details of the crash and the damage it caused are still coming in, and while no residents have been reported as missing as of Friday afternoon, five buildings were heavily damaged and firemen and rescue crews are still digging through the wreckage looking for anyone who might have been trapped inside.
"We're going to assume that there are people missing, and we're going to do a detailed search," said Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Riley.
"It's going to take a while to get through there to see the details," he added.
Several witnesses saw the Navy jet plummeting toward the ground and crashing into the apartment complex, including John Swain, who was driving off Interstate 264 heading north.
"The plane came right over us and was clearly in difficulty," Swain told MSNBC. "There were flames coming off the back … The plane got lower and lower and just as I turned … it crashed."
"He was flying real low like he didn't have any power," added Ernie Gonzalez, a retired military serviceman who was on the front porch of his daughter-in-law's house behind the Oceana base where the jet had taken off.
"He was smoking really bad. Bad smoke was coming out of the engine. It kind of backfired a couple times. I heard two pops … then 15 seconds later I heard the explosion."