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Shoreham air show plane crash: Several people feared dead after plane crashes into A27

Published 22/08/2015

Several people are feared dead after a plane crashed into cars on a major road during an aerial display at the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex.

The aircraft, believed to be a Hawker Hunter jet, plummeted to the ground when it failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre, smashing into the A27 in a huge fireball.

Police said there were "several casualties" after the plane hit a number of cars. The Royal Sussex County Hospital was put on major alert at 2pm and told to expect casualties.

One person was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition and another with minor injuries. It is feared others died at the scene.

Horrified onlookers described seeing the plane flying low to the ground followed by a "huge ball of fire and black smoke".

Footage of the crash posted online showed the jet carrying out a loop manoeuvre high in the air but failing to pull up in time.

The plane then crashed into the ground, bursting into a ball of flame and smoke. The pilot did not appear to deploy the ejection system.

Footage appeared to show queueing traffic on the A27 as the plane slammed into it.

One eyewitness, tweeting as Jon B, said: "It (the plane) turned from the north by Lancing College, went to go low towards the airfield and went behind some trees below where I was.

"Then there was a crunch sound and a ball of flames and thick black smoke came up from the ground."

Laura Raymond, a presenter for Splash FM, said the accident happened less than a quarter of a mile from where crowds and families were watching the event.

She said a "couple of planes" were taking part in a jet display when one appeared to fly too close to the ground before onlookers saw a "huge ball of fire and black smoke".

She told Sky News: "We were watching the displays ... and the fast jets were going on. To the best of our knowledge the Hawker Hunter T-7 display was under way.

"Within seconds we were thinking, 'gosh, that plane is going rather low'. There was a ball of fire, we didn't even hear an impact, and then plumes of black smoke."

Ms Raymond said commentators at the event described the situation to the crowds as a "tragic incident", and that the incident was outside the airfield boundary.

West Sussex Police said officers along with fire and ambulance services were at the scene dealing with the incident.

A spokesman said: "At about 1.20pm the aircraft hit several cars on the A27 just to the north of Shoreham Airport, where an air display is taking place.

"The aircraft ended up in a bush. There have been several casualties but we have no further information on these at the moment.

"The A27 has been closed in both directions and drivers are asked to avoid the area until further notice."

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said: "The AAIB is aware of the incident and we will be deploying a team to investigate."

It is the second tragic incident at the Shoreham Airshow in recent years.

In September 2007 James Bond stuntman Brian Brown, 49, died when he crashed a Second World War Hurricane after carrying out an unplanned barrel roll at a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain.

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