Search continues for missing residents after F-18 crash
Published Friday, April 6, 2012 10:26PM EDT
Officials are looking for missing residents after a U.S. Navy jet slammed into an apartment complex near Virginia Beach on Friday, ripping into two buildings and bursting into flames.
The U.S. Navy confirmed that an F/A-18 Hornet crashed into the residential area shortly after the noon hour on Friday.
The two pilots, identified as a student and an instructor, safely ejected after the plane encountered difficulties shortly after takeoff. The Navy says both were transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Emergency crews and firefighters descended on the scene shortly after the crash, fighting back flames and clearing locals from the area.
At least 40 apartment units were damaged in the crash, and seven people are currently in hospital. All of the injured are expected to survive.
Dozens of paramedics were called to assist those suffering from smoke inhalation, as residents helped evacuate neighbours from the scene.
Images of the fiery site quickly spread through social media. One photograph posted to Twitter showed the flaming tail of the plane smoldering near the brick exterior of a residential building.
The apartment complex comprises several low-rise apartment buildings. It appears the jet collided with at least two of the buildings.
Witnesses told CNN that the jet appeared to be coming toward them like it was going to try to land, and appeared to be dumping jet fuel as it descended.
The jet involved in the crash was an F-18 with Strike Fighter Squadron 106 – also known as the Gladiators – stationed at Virginia's Naval Air Station Oceana.
The crash occurred in the area of Interstate 264 and Laskin Road, a Virginia Beach neigbourhood just a few miles from the naval air station.
"We are taking all possible steps at the state level to provide immediate resources and assistance to those impacted by the crash of an F-18 fighter jet in Virginia Beach," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement.
"We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and State Police resources are now on the scene. Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident."