News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 6, 2012

Navy jet crashes into Virgina apartments, pilots eject

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Navy jet crashed and set fire to an apartment complex in Virginia Beach today and the two-member crew ejected safely, officials said.

Officials said at least two apartment buildings were on fire but there were no immediate reports of injuries on the ground. TV footage showed black smoke billowing from near some buildings and local TV stations said the jet hit an apartment building.

Overhead helicopter video from WAVY-TV showed fire crews in the apartment complex with large ladders spraying water on multiple smoking buildings, one of which has part of its roof torn off.

Robert Matthias, assistant to Virginia Beach’s city manager, told The Associated Press crews are at the scene of an apartment complex where the jet crashed in what he described as a courtyard.

“So far, they haven’t found any casualties,” Matthias said.

Bruce Nedelka, Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said there were no reports of fatalities, although several people were being treated for smoke inhalation.

He said at least two buildings in the complex of two-story apartment buildings were on fire.

The Navy said  in a news release that the jet was an F/A-18D assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 based at Naval Air Station Oceana.

The Navy says the jet crashed shortly after takeoff at a site near the base at about 12:05 p.m. Both aviators ejected safely but were taken to a local hospital for observation.

The squadron trains Navy and Marine Corps replacement pilots and weapon systems officers to support fleet commitments.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state is providing immediate resources and assistances on the ground and working with Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

The Hampton Roads area of Virginia has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana is located in Virginia Beach.

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