USA Today reported earlier today - A fighter jet that malfunctioned just after takeoff hurtled into a Virginia Beach apartment complex on Friday in a spectacular crash that sent flames and black smoke billowing from the rubble.
The two pilots managed to eject just before impact, suffering minor injuries along with five others on the ground. Several residents described hearing a loud explosion and looking out their windows to see the red and orange blaze. In the confusion that followed, two men helped one of the bloodied pilots from the two-seat F18 Hornet move to safety.
"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.
By evening, emergency crews were searching through the charred remains of the complex, where some 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed. No fatalities had been reported.
Seven people, including the pilots from nearby Naval Air Station Oceana, were taken to a hospital. All except one of the pilots were released by late afternoon.
Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said three residents remained unaccounted for late Friday.
"We don't know if we have working cell numbers, if they've traveled," Riley said. "We don't know if people are staying with other people."
He said crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95% of the apartment complex and would continue searching throughout the night.
"We consider ourselves very fortunate," he said.
The plane had dumped loads of fuel before crashing, though it wasn't clear if that was because of a malfunction or an intentional maneuver by the pilots, said Capt. Mark Weisgerber with U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He said investigators will try to determine what happened. The jet went down less than 10 miles from Oceana.