Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 00:12 UK

Five killed in Kent plane crash

Destroyed house
One house was destroyed. Its occupants were on holiday

Two pilots and three passengers have been killed after their small plane crashed into a housing estate in Farnborough, Kent.

No survivors were found after the Cessna Citation 1 jet burst into flames, destroying a garage and house.

The dead have not been officially identified but are believed to include ex-touring car champion David Leslie and racing team owner Richard Lloyd.

The plane had been en-route from nearby Biggin Hill airfield to France.

It is also understood that Mike Roberts, believed to be one of the pilots on board, was among the dead.

'We're going down'

The Cessna Citation 1 jet came down in Romsey Close at about 1430 BST.

No-one on the ground was badly injured, but two people were treated for shock.

The people who live in the damaged house - which was empty at the time of the crash - were away on holiday.

They have returned since the crash and are being comforted by friends.

It is thought the plane got into difficulties just after take-off from Biggin Hill.

Plane crash scene, pictures from Fernand Frimpong
As I turned off the runway, I looked back and saw the plane drop out of the sky
Jon
Pilot at Biggin Hill

Andrew Walters, chairman of Biggin Hill Airport, confirmed that the passengers were on a business trip to France. The aircraft had just taken off when the pilot made an emergency call and asked for permission to land again.

"Unfortunately it crashed before reaching the airport," Mr Walters said.

A pilot named as John, who was landing another plane at Biggin Hill, heard the mayday call. The Cessna pilot reported "severe engine vibrations", he said.

He told the BBC: "You could hear the alarms in the cockpit.

"The pilot came back over the radio a second or two later and said 'We're going down, we're going down'.

"The radio stayed live, and as I turned off the runway I looked back and I saw the plane basically drop out of the sky.

"And then the radio went dead and black smoke came up from over the hill."

'Felt the heat'

Local residents said they heard a "roar" and saw the plane flying along at a "funny angle" with its tail down and nose up. In the aftermath of the crash, they said the air was thick with the smell of fuel.

Matthew Wincott, 37, who lives opposite, said: "I'd just finished lunch when I heard an almighty roar. I looked out of the back window and saw this stunning jet coming into view.

CESSNA CITATION 1
Cessna Citation 1
First produced in 1976
Two Pratt & Whitney engines
Capacity of eight people
Max speed 647km/h
Max take-off weight 10,850lbs
Production ceased 1985

"It was banking slightly. I ran out of the front of the house. It just hit the ground and burst into flames.

"It was absolute carnage. I couldn't get anywhere near the plane, but I could feel the heat."

Another eyewitness, Jamie Foot, 17, was watching TV on the sofa when he saw the plane "come over the top of the garage".

"There was a massive explosion and a big fireball and smokeball went up in the air," he said.

Locals have said it was a "miracle" no-one living in the street was injured or killed and that no-one was at home in the house which bore the brunt of the crash.

Map showing crash scene and airport

Next-door neighbour Christine Diamond, said the owners, Pat and Ed Harman, were away on holiday.

"They are going to be absolutely devastated by this, but I'm just so glad that they weren't inside at the time," she said.

Ian Todd, of the London Ambulance Service, said he was "grateful that there hasn't been a greater loss of life."

In the wake of the crash, local residents were evacuated. People living around the site will not be able to return to their homes on Sunday night.

Accident inspectors were sent to the scene, while eight fire engines and 40 firefighters worked to tackle the blaze.

Bodies in the wreckage have not yet been recovered. Work at the crash site has been suspended for the night and will resume on Monday, police said.



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