VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A U.S. Navy F/A-18D fighter crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia soon after takeoff on Friday, sending fireballs into the sky, damaging six buildings and injuring at least seven people.
No deaths have been reported, but three residents of the Mayfair Mews complex for the elderly were unaccounted for, authorities said.
“We have physically been in every structure, and we have 95 percent completed the search and rescue,” Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Riley said.
All the injuries, including those to the F/A-18 crew, have so far been described as minor, officials said. Both crew members ejected safely from the aircraft before it crashed into the buildings in Virginia Beach, and one pilot was found still strapped into his ejection seat.
Four of the injured were taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities had said nine people were injured, but later revised the number to seven, not including the pilots.
The F/A-18D “suffered a catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during a training flight, Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber said in a statement from the Pentagon.
Thick black clouds of smoke billowed into the air as fire reduced the apartment buildings to a blackened