Plane carrying 5 people hits Australian shopping mall

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This image made from video shows the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.

This image made from video shows the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Photo: Channel 9 via AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A light plane carrying five people crashed into a shopping mall on Tuesday in the city of Melbourne, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of causalities, but the twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air crashed about 45 minutes before the Direct Factory Outlet mall in suburban Essendon was to open, Police Minister Lisa Neville said.

The plane had taken off from Melbourne's second-biggest airport at Essendon on a chartered flight to King Island, 255 kilometers (160 miles) to the south, Neville said.

The mall adjoins the airport.

Police Superintendent Mick Frewen said a pilot reported a "catastrophic engine failure" moments before the plane crashed into a storage area at the rear of the mall.

This image made from video shows the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. An official says a light plane has crashed into a shopping mall in the city of Melbourne.
This image made from video shows the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. An official says a light plane has crashed into a shopping mall in the city of Melbourne.
In this image made from video, smoke billows from the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. An official says a light plane has crashed into a shopping mall in the city of Melbourne.
In this image made from video, smoke billows from the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. An official says a light plane has crashed into a shopping mall in the city of Melbourne.

Police and paramedics rushed to the crash site, where firefighters doused the flames.

A witness who gave his name as Jason told Australian Broadcasting Corp. he was passing the mall in a taxi when the plane crashed.

"I saw this plane coming in really low and fast. I couldn't see the impact but when it hit the building there was a massive fireball," he said.

"I could feel the heat through the window of the taxi, and then a wheel — it looked like a plane wheel — bounced on the road and hit the front of the taxi as we were driving along," he said.

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