5 dead as plane crashes in car park

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Firefighters with the Orange County Fire Authority sift through the wreckage of a twin-engine aircraft that crashed in the parking lot of a Staples at 3861 S. Bristol Street in Santa Ana on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. Five people on the aircraft were killed in the crash. (Photo by Richard Koehler, contributing photographer)

Five people on board a small airplane were killed when it crashed in the car park of a Southern California shopping centre.

The twin-engine Cessna was heading to the airport southeast of Los Angeles when it came down and struck an unoccupied parked car in the lot of a Staples store and a CVS pharmacy, Orange County Fire Authority said.

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There was no fire and nobody on the ground was hurt.

Photos from the scene showed the plane upright but on its belly and the car damaged. Several roads surrounding the shopping center and the South Coast Plaza mall across the street were closed.

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Ella Pham, 20, and her boyfriend were walking in the car park when they saw the crash, she told the Los Angeles Times.

“We looked up to see the plane falling nose first,” she told the Times. “We really didn’t think it was a plane at first due to no crashing noise, but as soon as we saw people running from across the street we went to go check it out. It was so heartbreaking just seeing the plane crumbled into pieces.”

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The pilot of the Cessna 414 declared an emergency before crashing about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from John Wayne Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.

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The plane is registered to the San Francisco-based real estate company Category III, according to an FAA database. A phone call to the company was not immediately returned Sunday.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, Salac said.

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A car parking lot of a Staples was heavily damaged after being struck by twin-engine aircraft that crashed in the lot at 3861 S. Bristol Street in Santa Ana on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. All five people on the plane were killed in the crash. (Photo by Richard Koehler, contributing photographer)
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