Five people are feared dead after a light plane smashed into the DFO Shopping Centre in Essendon and burst into flames.
Two bodies have been pulled from the wreckage. There have been no reports of injuries from people on the ground.
The plane, understood to be chartered for a golf trip to King Island, took off and got to about 30 metres before veering left and crashing into the centre. Police suspect “catastrophic engine failure”.
The pilot of the plane, who has not been identified, made two mayday calls before impact.
A witness, Ross Barker, told Channel 9 he saw the plane clip the centre’s roof, cartwheel, and then smash through the centre’s southern wall. The wreckage ended up in the centre’s loading bay and caught fire.
The plane was a Beechcraft King Air chartered to carry five golfers to King Island. It was being operated by Corporate and Leisure Travel, who hired it from MyJet in Bendigo, Bas Nikolovski, CEO of Australian Corporate Jets, confirmed. The plane’s four passengers were Americans, Channel 7 reported.
An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said “we assessed some people at the scene but we haven’t treated or transported anybody“.
“The people that we assessed were on the ground.”
She could not confirm whether that meant all passengers had died.
Firefighters took more than 90 minutes to control the blaze before finally putting it out about 10.30am, an MFB spokeswoman said.
The Tullamarine freeway was closed so investigators could preserve debris that landed on the road.