1 dead, 2 injured after plane crashes into building in Richmond, B.C.

One person is dead and two people were injured after a small plane crashed into the 9th floor of an apartment building on a busy street in Richmond, B.C.

Transportation Safety Board launches investigation into crash

One person is dead and two people were injuredafter asmall aircraft that took off from Vancouver International Airport Friday afternoon crashed into the 9th floor of an apartment building on a busy street in Richmond, B.C.

Greg Helem, a CBC News reader, sent in this picture showing an elderly woman pleading for help after a small plane crashed into her apartment. ((Greg Helem))

RCMP said the man who died was the pilot of the plane, which carried no passengers. They are not naming the victim until his family is notified.

Two people inside the building were injured, including one withserious but not life-threatening injuries, said police. The other personhad minor injuries.

The 15-storey buildingwas immediately evacuated after the plane hit, Richmond RCMP spokeswoman Nycki Basra told CBC News.

All residents are accounted for and were taken to emergency accommodations set up by the city. They won't beallowed to return to their homes until the building is judged to be structurally sound, said officials.

Police said they believe the plane was a Piper Seneca twin engine, and took off at 4:02 p.m. PTheading to Pitt Meadows near Port Coquitlam.

"The plane is still inside the building," said RCMP Cpl. Rob Vermuelen.

Jason Smith, a CBC News reader, sent in this picture of the Richmond plane crash, showing part of the balcony that was destroyed. ((Jason Smith))

RCMP say the plane's fuel supply poses no risk to the area and that the Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Plane 'zooming along'

The plane flew low and crashed at a very high speed, witnesses say.

One witness, who is a worker at the Canada Line Project on No. 3 Road, said the plane was about76 metreshigh when it came down.

Another witness, Crystal Mason, was driving with her husbandnear the apartment building when they noticed the small plane.

"As soon as I saw it I knew something was wrong just because we are so close to the airport and most of the planes we see are going fairly slow once they've taken off and this one was just zooming along," she said.

Mason said the plane veered sharply to the left and nosedived before hitting the building.

"We expected to hear a bang, it was more of a muffled sound, which is, I guess, because it had crashed into the building," she said.

Mason said people flocked to the scene to see what had happened as emergency crews arrived.

A two-engine plane crashed into an apartment building on a busy street in Richmond, B.C., Friday afternoon. ((CBC))

"It was just craziness. The amount of people… police, ambulances, fire engines."

Cause not known

Susana da Silva of CBC News was at the site and described the scene as chaotic.

There wasno smoke or fire coming out of the ninth-floor balcony, part of which was destroyed as a result of the impact, she said.

At least a dozen ambulances and police cars were on the scene, which is on Saba Road, near No. 3 Road.

The area is home to a number of highrise buildings, in the central area of the suburban city, located south of Vancouver.

Basra said the cause of the crash is being investigated.

The Piper Seneca is a twin-engine propeller-driven light aircraft capable of carrying five passengers and a pilot on journeys of up to 1,800 kilometres.

With files from the Canadian Press