A small plane crashed into a construction site in a densely populated part of India’s financial capital Mumbai on Thursday, killing five people including one on the ground, officials said.
Images broadcast on Indian news channels showed flames and black smoke billowing from the area, which sits right next to several high-rise residential towers.
There were four people on the 12-seater aircraft when it crashed, disaster management officials said, with witnesses reporting hearing a “loud explosion” as it smashed into a half-built structure.
“There was a huge explosion and the adjacent tree caught fire and the fire spilled on the streets,” a man was quoted as saying on the NDTV news channel.
“Initially we assumed an electric box in the under construction building must have caught fire but when we checked out the spot, we found the charred body of a man who apparently was on bike when the plane crashed,” he added.
A woman, who was also not named, reported hearing three loud explosions and described seeing a “major fire”. Video footage posted online showed bright orange flames licking the side of a building next to a construction site.
Other images shot after the fire was put out showed firemen sifting through the twisted wreckage of the twin-prop plane as crowds looked on. The white tailfin seemed to be the only recognizable part of the aircraft that was not consumed in the inferno.
India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the plane was a turbo-prop King Air C-90 and had been on a test flight from the nearby Juhu airstrip.
“There were two pilots and two aircraft maintenance engineers on board. All onboard (the) aircraft along with one person on ground are dead,” the DGCA statement read.
It was not raining at the time of the accident and weather did not appear to be a factor in the crash. DGCA said it was sending a team to investigate the cause, adding that the aircraft was owned by a private operator who had purchased it from the Uttar Pradesh state government.
P Rahangdale, Mumbai’s chief fire officer, said several fire engines had rushed to the spot. “Our teams have extinguished the fire and are conducting rescue operations,” he told AFP.
India’s National Disaster Response Force said it was also sending a team to make sure no there were no injured trapped under any rubble that may have been cause by the crash.