U.K. air-show jet crashes onto highway and hits vehicles, 7 dead

A military jet taking part in a British air show crashes into a busy main road, killing seven people and injuring more than a dozen others.

1 person in life-threatening condition, another 14 have minor injuries

A military jet taking part in a British air show crashed into a busy main road, killing seven people and injuring more than a dozen others, police said Saturday.

The Hawker Hunter fighter jet, which was participating in the Shoreham Airshow near Brighton in southern England, hit several vehicles on a nearby road as it crashed Saturday afternoon. Witnesses told local TV that the jet appeared to have crashed when it failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre.

West Sussex Police said seven died at the scene and one patient with life-threatening injuries was taken to the hospital. A further 14 people were treated for minor injuries.

'You're too low, pull up'

News video and photographs showed a fireball erupting near trees and huge plumes of thick black smoke rising. A witness, Stephen Jones, told the BBC that the pilot had just begun his display.

Police and emergency services stand by the wreckage of the aircraft, believed to be a Hawker Hunter jet, that plummeted to the ground when it failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre, smashing into in a huge fireball on the A27, West Sussex, Britain. At least seven people died. (European Pressphoto Agency)

"He'd gone up into a loop and as he was coming out of the loop I just thought, you're too low, you're too low, pull up. And he flew straight into the ground either on or very close to the A27, which runs past the airport," Jones said.

The force said all the casualties were believed to have occurred on the road, and no one on the airfield was believed injured. It was not yet known whether the jet pilot was able to eject or not.

The road was closed in both directions Saturday.

Crashes at British air shows are rare, but in 2007 the pilot of a World War II Hurricane died at the Shoreham Airshow after performing an unplanned barrel-roll.

"We mustn't rush to knee jerk reactions about the safety of air shows," said Tim Loughton, a member of Britain's Parliament who represents Shoreham. "This is an air show that's been going for 26 years, only the second time there's been any serious accident, and the first time that spectators and people on the ground have been affected, bad though that is."


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