Pi­lot fights for life af­ter seven killed in Bri­tish air­show crash

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

A pi­lot was in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion in hos­pi­tal on Sun­day fol­low­ing a crash at a UK air­show that killed seven peo­ple when his plane plunged into a busy road.

The his­toric Hawker Hunter mil­i­tary jet failed to pull up out of a loop at the Shore­ham Air­show on the south­east English coast on Satur­day, and hit sev­eral cars, cre­at­ing a fire­ball that sent thick, black smoke bil­low­ing into the sky.

The pi­lot was air­lifted to hos­pi­tal where he is in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion, Sus­sex Po­lice said, though they were un­able to say whether he had ejected from the plane.

“As far as we are aware all those who sadly lost their lives were on the road,” said Sus­sex Po­lice’s Su­per­in­ten­dent Jane Derrick.

“At this time we are con­tin­u­ing to search ... the area to en­sure that we have iden­ti­fied all the ca­su­al­ties.

“It is pos­si­ble that ... we are go­ing to find more bod­ies at the scene.”

Four­teen peo­ple mi­nor in­juries, four sus­tained of whom were hos­pi­tal­ized.

Footage of the crash showed the jet at­tempt­ing to per­form a loop ma­neu­ver high in the air. The plane banked up steeply, turned over but did not com­plete the loop in time to avoid hit­ting the ground.

The crash hap­pened at around 1:20 p.m. (1220 GMT) Satur­day. The plane hit the A27, a ma­jor road that runs along Eng­land’s south­east coast.

Pic­tures f rom t he scene showed po­lice had cor­doned off the four-lane high­way, with am­bu­lances, fire crews and emer­gency ser­vice he­li­copters in at­ten­dance. De­bris was vis­i­ble across the road.

Eye­wit­ness Chris Watkins told the BBC: “The Hunter came across the air­field, did a turn be­hind us and as it swooped down to do its run across the air­field it just ploughed straight in to the road and the trees.”

‘Not go­ing to make this’

Stephen Jones, another wit­ness, added: “He made a quick pass along the crowd line and pulled up into a loop and as he came out of it, I thought, ‘this is wrong, you’re too low, you’re not go­ing to make this.’

“He just dis­ap­peared be­hind some low trees at the edge of the air­field and then there was a huge ex­plo­sion.”

Gairo Gomez, who works nearby, said the whole build­ing he was in shook.

“I saw the plane go­ing down,” he added. “I heard a huge bang and the glass was shak­ing and the doors were bang­ing, the whole build­ing was shak­ing.”

A main­stay of the UK’s Royal Air Force in the 1950s and early 1960s, Hawker Hunter planes were used in cam­paigns such as the Suez Cri­sis and the Malayan Emer­gency.

Sun­day’s sec­ond day of the air­show was can­celed.

Tim Loughton, the area’s mem­ber of par­lia­ment, drove past the air­show en­trance a few min­utes be­fore the crash and said cars were queu­ing to get in.

The MP said given the num­bers at­tend­ing the air­show, “thank God that the air­craft did not hit a larger crowd.”

“It’s hor­rific. It is a hor­ren­dous crash.”

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron sent his con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of those who died.

A Down­ing Street spokesman said: “The prime min­is­ter sends his heart­felt con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of the peo­ple who were so trag­i­cally killed.

“The prime min­is­ter’s thoughts and prayers are with the fam­i­lies and friends of the vic­tims.”

AP

Emer­gency ser­vices at­tend the scene on the A27 high­way af­ter a plane crashed into cars on the ma­jor road dur­ing an aerial dis­play at the Shore­ham Air­show in West Sus­sex, Eng­land, Satur­day, Aug. 22.

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