A military jet taking part in a British air show crashed into a busy main road, killing seven people and injuring more than a dozen others, police said Saturday.
The Hawker Hunter fighter jet, which was participating in the annual RAFA Shoreham Airshow near Brighton in southern England, hit several vehicles on a nearby road as it crashed Saturday afternoon. Witnesses told local TV that the jet appeared to have crashed when it failed to pull out of a loop maneuver.
West Sussex Police said seven died at the scene and one patient with life-threatening injuries was taken to the hospital. A further 14 people were treated for minor injuries.
News video and photographs showed a fireball erupting near trees and huge plumes of thick black smoke rising. A witness, Stephen Jones, told the BBC that the pilot had just begun his display.
"He'd gone up into a loop and as he was coming out of the loop I just thought, you're too low, you're too low, pull up. And he flew straight into the ground either on or very close to the A27, which runs past the airport," Jones said.
The Royal Air Force Association issued a statement saying that all the casualties were believed to have occurred on the road, and no one on the airfield was believed injured. It was not known whether the pilot was able to eject.
The road was closed in both directions Saturday.
The Shoreham Airshow website said that Sunday's scheduled events would not take place.
Shoreham Airshow will not be taking place tomorrow (Sunday 23 August), because of the serious nature of today’s incident. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this may cause, but we hope the public will understand our decision.
Our focus at the moment is on helping the authorities with their investigations. Sussex Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch have asked that anyone with photographs or video footage that may help with their investigations should send their contact details firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not send files, just contact details and information about the material you have.
The families and friends of all those involved continue to be in our thoughts.
Crashes at British airshows are rare, but in 2007 the pilot of a World War II Hurricane died at the Shoreham Airshow after performing an unplanned barrel-roll.