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US Navy jet crashes into apartment complex in Virginia

According to sources, three buildings were destroyed by the crash while two others suffered significant damage.

A U.S. jet, an F/A-18 Hornet from the Naval Air Station Oceana crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on Friday afternoon.

The mishap occurred shortly after takeoff at around 12:30 local time due to a malfunction.

The two aviators, including a student and instructor successfully ejected from the aircraft before it hit ground.

One of the pilots was reportedly found in a backyard, still strapped to his seat.

Seven people, including the two pilots were injured. Fortunately there was no loss of life. The wounded were rushed to hospital and all are stated to be out of danger.

Residential complex destroyed
According to sources, three buildings were destroyed by the crash while two others suffered significant damage. Flames and clouds of black smoke rose from the rubble. There was a strong smell of fuel in the region.

Police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles rushed to the scene of the crash. The fires were extinguished and the rescue teams were combing through the wreckage.

Twenty units had been cleared and the firefighters were searching through the final six very carefully as they had suffered maximum destruction. By late afternoon only three residents were untraced.

Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said, "We don't know if we have working cell numbers, if they've travelled. We don't know if people are staying with other people."

Eyewitness accounts
According to witnesses, loads of fuel was dumped from the jet before it hit the ground. It is unclear whether this was an intentional manoeuvre or occurred due to a malfunction.

However, the plane not having much fuel on board which prevented what could have been a massive fireball.

Residents heard a deafening explosion followed by red and orange blaze. "Oh, my God, I heard three really loud explosions, then the black smoke went up high in the sky," said 71-year-old Felissa Ezell, who lives in a townhouse near the crash site.

Jon Swain, another witness said, "There were flames coming out of its engine at the back, which I just thought was afterburn or whatever... but the plane got lower and lower. I saw one pilot eject.”

Colby Smith, a resident said that his house started shaking and then there was a power cut followed by fire erupting outside his window. On running outside he saw one of the pilots.

"I saw the parachute on the house and he was still connected to it, and he was laying on the ground with his face full of blood,'' Smith told local media.

"The pilot said, 'I'm sorry for destroying your house.'"