Latest developments [5:45 pm EST]
- Nine people taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries; all but one have been released
- Search for victims is about halfway complete
- Pilots reportedly safe and conscious
- Fuel dumped before crash likely avoided, "massive fireball"
Officials have confirmed that a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet has crashed in Virginia after taking off from U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana, with the two pilots believed to have ejected before impact.
U.S. Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber has confirmed that the jet suffered a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction," shortly after takeoff but has not released specifics of what may have caused the crash. Weisgerber said that both pilots are reportedly conscious and "doing well."
There are currently no reports of fatalities on the ground. Several photos have emerged from the crash, showing the wreckage and black smoke rising from nearby buildings. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has said that rescue crews have completed a search of two of the five buildings impacted by the crash.
Virginia Beach EMS division chief Bruce Nedelka said several witnesses saw the pilots dumping fuel from the jet before ejecting, which likely avoided a massive fireball and fire.
Yahoo News has made several calls to the Virginia Fire Department but has been unable to obtain an official statement. In an interview with CBS News, Tim Riley of the Virginia Beach Fire Department said:
"We are confirming that there is one aircraft from Oceana that has crashed into the apartment behind us. Both pilots were transported to a local hospital and both were conscious, that's all I'm going to report on that."
"In the apartment complex we do not have any confirmation yet of injuries. We are still in the stages of extinguishing the fire and we have to do some extensive searches in those buildings."
Riley said the department is working on an unified press release that will be issued to the public shortly.
Additional updates posted after the jump...Read More »from U.S. Navy jet crashes in Virginia; 2 pilots ejected, 9 taken to hospital