Plane crashes into Australian mall killing five

Essendon Airport, which is used mainly by light aircraft, remained closed. The four passengers were from the United States, while the pilot was Australian.

Witnesses described the plane exploding on impact and erupting into a fireball.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating the crash and expect to hand down an interim report within 28 days.

DFO Essendon will allow members of the public to pay their respects at the site of a plane crash which killed five people, before it reopens next week.

Steven Leane, Victoria's Assistant Police Commissioner, says the pilot tried to turn back after realising there was a problem with the engine, but couldn't.

No casualties or fatalities were reported on the ground.

The pilot of the aircraft was identified as Max Quartermain, owner of the charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel.

Five people are believed to be on board the plane which crashed in Melbourne this morning.

The US embassy has confirmed that four passengers on the plane, bound for Tasmania's King Island, were US citizens. "It was a charter flight with 2 of his friends flying to another island to play golf".

Witnesses reported hearing explosions before black smoke began billowing from the building, a DFO factory outlet shipping centre.

"I saw this plane ... when it hit the building there was a massive fireball", said the man called Jason. "Our hearts & prayers are with the victims and their families".

Pilot Max Quartermain, and USA citizens Greg Reynolds De Haven, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and a fourth American whose identity is not yet known, were all on board the Beechcraft Super King Air twin-engine aircraft.

His sister Denelle Wicht paid tribute to him on Facebook, saying: "my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his "once in a lifetime " trip to Australia".

Earlier, Victoria police superintendent Mick Frewen told reporters the plane "called in a mayday" shortly after take-off.

"I could feel the heat through the window of the taxi, and then a wheel", the driver told the station.

  • Leroy Wright