Several people died after a small plane crashed into a Florida mobile home park shortly after the pilot reported engine failure, rescue officials said. Fire Chief Scott Ehlers said the dead included people in the aircraft and inside the trailer at the Clearwater site.
The crash damaged at least three other trailers in the mobile home park. Air traffic control heard the pilot declare a distress call before disappearing.
Emergency room notified of fall
According to local rescue authorities, they were notified of a plane crash at 19:08 local time (00:08GMT) on Thursday and quickly responded to the call. Ehlers said at a news conference that they received the call at about the same time the airport reported a plane in trouble.
Air traffic control heard the aircraft’s pilot declare an emergency before it disappeared from radar approximately three miles (4.8 km) north of the runway at St Pete-Clearwater International Airport.
The accident site
Videos from the crash site at the Bayside Waters mobile home park show debris scattered across the street, as well as flames and thick smoke. Chief Ehlers informed reporters that four trailers were “hit hard,” and one was hit by the plane.
Three of the homes were quickly searched and contained no victims, Ehlers said, adding that there were residents inside when the plane crashed, but they managed to escape to safety. “I can confirm that we have multiple fatalities, both from the aircraft and inside the mobile home,” Ehlers said.
The ongoing investigation
The exact number of people killed in the incident remains unclear. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement that the plane was a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35 that reported an “engine failure” shortly before the crash. The statement stated that “it is not yet known how many people were on board”.
The accident will be investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).