VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) – Authorities in Virginia Beach say they consider themselves fortunate after a Navy Jet slammed into an apartment complex.
Witnesses say the plane dumped fuel before the crash after an apparent malfunction.
According to the Virginia Beach Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Tim Riley, they have no reports of missing people. At one point, investigators believed three people were unaccounted for. Riley says the three missing people turned out to be misinformation and the apartment had been vacant before the crash.
Seven people were injured, including the pilot and co-pilot, who ejected.
Riley said early Saturday morning that crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95 percent of the apartment complex. He said crews have been through every building in the Mayfair Mews Apartments and no victims have been found.
Crews searched through the rubble after an F/A-18D jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach Friday afternoon.
The crash happened just after noon when the aircraft suffered “ catastrophic mechanical malfunction ” shortly after takeoff, according to Captain Mark Weisgerber, Deputy Commander for the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. Both pilots were forced to eject from the jet, which then crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments off of Fleming Drive.
Weisgerber added the pilot in the front seat was a student, while the back seat was occupied by an experienced instructor.
Virginia Beach Police responded to the scene and went door to door at the apartment complex to see if any residents were in their homes, Grazie Moyers with VBPD told WAVY.com.
As soon as first responders arrived on scene, Virginia State Police closed Interstate 264 in both directions, causing quite a traffic backup. Traffic cameras from the Virginia Department of Transportation showed thick, black smoke billowing up from the crash site.
All lanes of I-264 were back open at 3 p.m. Friday.
The American Red Cross is offering assistance to those affected by the crash .
A shelter at Birdneck Elementary School closed Saturday, according to a news release, after the city reported the 26 people who took shelter there found other places to stay. Displaced residents were scheduled to meet with the American Red Cross and the Navy on Saturday afternoon.
The City of Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center is also taking in family pets.
Virginia Beach Fire officials said there were no fatalities reported.
The Navy will start providing damage claims forms Saturday to those impacted by Friday’s crash. Click here for details.
Stay with WAVY News 10 on air and online for complete coverage of the Navy jet crash.