Light plane crashes into Australian shopping mall: five on board killed

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 07:12 GMT, Feb 21, 2017 |

A small plane carrying five people crashed into a shopping centre near an airport outside Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, on Tuesday (Feb 21) and officials said an unknown number of people may have been killed.

Smoke billowed from the shopping mall near Essendon airport, a small airfield close to Melbourne, and firefighters hosing down the burning wreckage.

Victoria state police minister Lisa Neville said five people were on board the plane, which was a charter flight to King Island in Bass Strait between the Australian mainland and the southern island state of Tasmania.

The doomed Beechcraft Super King Air was toting the four tourists to King Island — a 150 mile journey — for a round of golf when it crashed into a Direct Factory Outlet in Melbourne just before 9 a.m.

The pilot managed to send an emergency call, describing a “catastrophic engine failure” before the fiery collision, police said.

“At this stage we do not have information regarding possible casualties,” Victoria state police said in a statement.

 State Premier Daniel Andrews said at a press conference that the crash was the worst aviation disaster in Victoria in 30 years.