Tuesday, April 3, 2012

At least 5 wounded after small plane crashes into Florida shopping center

A small experimental plane sputtered and gone down in flames into a supermarket at a Florida shopping center Monday evening, injuring five people and sending frightened shoppers running from the complex, authorities said.

Several people in the Northgate Shopping Center in DeLand dialed 911 around 7:20 p.m. to report the the aircraft had plunged into the complex, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. Callers said the plane showed signs of trouble moments before it hit the roof of the supermarket of the Florida-based Publix chain.

"A twin-engine experiment aircraft has packed up into the roof of the Publix supermarket," DeLand Police Sgt. Chris Estes told The Associated Press by telephone. "Publix is the only structure to suffer any damage." But he said all the businesses in the complex were closed to make way for tragedy crews.

He said the plane had taken off from a nearby municipal airport in DeLand, a Florida city about 20 miles west of Daytona Beach.

The police spokesman additional that three people had suffered severe burns and two others had moderate burns but he didn't specify who on the ground or on the aircraft were injured.

However, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said a pilot and a passenger from the plane were airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center. Spokesman Gerardo Morales later established to AP that two people had been airlifted there, but he declined to identify them or discuss their injuries.

Marleny Arevalo, a manager at a nearby Taco Bell fast food restaurant, said she didn't hear or see the crash but customers entering the outlet reacted with shocked looks moments later.

"They said, "Something's burning!" she told The Associated Press by telephone.

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