Essendon crash: Five killed as plane plunges into shopping centre near Melbourne's Essendon Airport
Updated 15 minutes ago
Five people have died as a result of Victoria's worst civil aviation accident in 30 years, after a plane crashed into a shopping centre near Melbourne's Essendon Airport, authorities say.
Witnesses described seeing the plane erupt into a "massive fireball" after it smashed into the DFO centre just after 9:00am.
Victorian Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said five people were on board and none had survived the crash.
"At this stage, the advice we have is there are no fatalities other than on the aircraft itself," he said.
The plane called mayday as it was taking off and Victoria Police Superintendent Mick Frewen said it appeared to be affected by a "catastrophic engine failure".
The plane crashed into the back of two shops, Focus on Furniture and JB Hi Fi, he said.
A spokeswoman for the outlet's Spotlight store said part of that store's warehouse and dispatch area was also hit.
Twenty staff were in the building, but none were injured and all had been offered counselling, she said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was a "desperately sad day" for the state.
"A number of people have died," he said.
"We are currently reaching out to their families to provide them with the support that they need to try to comfort them at what must be just such a horrible moment.
"The plane was coming way, way fast. I thought that's faster than normal," he said.
"It looked like it hit the building, there was a massive fireball, I could feel the heat through the window.
"Then a wheel, it looked like a plane wheel, bounced on the road."
Pilot radar websites indicate the plane was a Beechcraft B200 Super King Air.