A light aircraft exploded Tuesday in a “massive fireball” with police saying none of the five people aboard survived as it smashed into a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne.
Pilot Max Quartermain and a group of American golfers on the trip of a lifetime are among the five people killed shortly after 9am on Tuesday. The footage emerged late on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Quartermain owned Essendon-based Corporate and Leisure Aviation and had more than 38 years of flying experience. The five-person Beechcraft charter plane experienced engine failure, dipped dramatically and cartwheeled into DFO.
Before crashing, Mr Quartermain is believed to have made two mayday calls.
The twin-turboprop Beechcraft King Air plane suffered an engine failure and crashed into the mall near the end of the runway at Essendon Airport, Victoria state police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane told reporters in Melbourne. Witnesses told Australian Associated Press the plane exploded on impact.
Sky News showed burning wreckage strewn across the mall’s carpark and a thick column of black smoke rising from the crash site.
The plane had been bound for King Island in Bass Strait between the mainland and the southern island state of Tasmania and Australian newspapers reported that at least two of the men were traveling to play golf on the island’s famed links.
A taxi driver called ABC radio and told of the “massive fireball”.
“I saw this plane… When it hit the building there was a massive fireball,” said the man called Jason.
“I could feel the heat through the window of the taxi, and then a wheel – it looked like a plane wheel –bounced on the road and hit the front of the taxi as we were driving along.”s
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”.