4 Americans among 5 killed when plane crashed into Australia shopping mall


Four American tourists were aboard a twin engine plane that crashed dramatically into an Australia shopping center Tuesday.

Five people were killed in total, including the Australian pilot, after he reported a "catastrophic engine failure" shortly after takeoff from Melbourne's second biggest airport, Essendon, en route to an island off the country's southeast coast.

19 PHOTOS
Plane crashes near Essendon Airport
See Gallery
Plane crashes near Essendon Airport

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

A general view shows damage to the building after a Beechcraft plane crashed into a shopping centre just after tack-off from the Essendon airport in Melbourne on February 21, 2017. A light aircraft carrying five people crashed on February 21 in a 'massive fireball', hitting a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air, witnesses and officials said.

(MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)

LATEST: Aircraft crashes at DFO near Essendon Airport >> https://t.co/RHxYQXrN9P https://t.co/vnqZdoQOoN
A general view shows the wheel of a Beechcraft plane on a highway after it crashed into a shopping centre just after tack-off from the Essendon airport in Melbourne on February 21, 2017. A light aircraft carrying five people crashed on February 21 in a 'massive fireball', hitting a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air, witnesses and officials said. / AFP / Mal Fairclough (Photo credit should read MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

A plane carrying five people has crashed into a shopping centre next to the #Essendon Airport in Melbourne's north. https://t.co/RaOp3fx45V

A general view shows damage to the building after a Beechcraft plane crashed into a shopping centre just after tack-off from the Essendon airport in Melbourne on February 21, 2017. A light aircraft carrying five people crashed on February 21 in a 'massive fireball', hitting a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air, witnesses and officials said.

(MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)

#BREAKING: An aircraft has crashed into a building near Essendon Airport in Melbourne. https://t.co/o1GHwzM07v https://t.co/dicXPTYBpX
Investigators stand near damage to the building after a Beechcraft plane crashed into a shopping centre just after tack-off from the Essendon airport in Melbourne on February 21, 2017. A light aircraft carrying five people crashed on February 21 in a 'massive fireball', hitting a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air, witnesses and officials said. / AFP / Mal Fairclough (Photo credit should read MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Plane crash At DFO near #Essendon airport Just happened black smoke can be seen in Preston #Melbourne https://t.co/9Se0i587nG

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

#Essendon https://t.co/PaJfZg7YEC

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The crash sparked a huge blaze, and the area has been evacuated https://t.co/VDbhcIQuET https://t.co/PW8T4JFEVI

A view from the tarmac at Melbourne's Essendon Airport is seen after a charter plane leaving the airport crashed on February 21, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The charter plane was carrying 5 people when it crashed near the DFO Melbourne Shopping Centre at around 9am this morning. Emergency services are on scene.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

A plane has crashed on approach to Essendon Airport. https://t.co/mAVAMYNcDc
A general view shows damage to the building after a Beechcraft plane crashed into a shopping centre just after tack-off from the Essendon airport in Melbourne on February 21, 2017. A light aircraft carrying five people crashed on February 21 in a 'massive fireball', hitting a shopping centre near the Australian city of Melbourne and sending black smoke billowing into the air, witnesses and officials said. / AFP / Mal Fairclough (Photo credit should read MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Watch: Harrison Ford's Plane Narrowly Misses Jetliner With 116 People Aboard

They would never arrive. After the apparent mechanical failure, the pilot tried returning to the airport but it was too late.

Dashcam footage taken by passing motorists shows the plane's violent impact as it crashed at high speed into the Direct Factory Outlet mall in suburban Essendon.

Just 45 minutes before the mall opened for the day, a fiery mushroom cloud erupted above and beside the building, where the burning remains of the plane came to rest in a parking lot.

The U.S. Embassy in Canberra confirmed that four victims were U.S. citizens. Family members have since identified Texans Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch as two of the victims.

Danelle Wicht, who is reportedly De Haven's sister, posted a photo of her departed brother along with a message on Facebook after hearing the news.

"Dear friends and family, my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his 'once in a lifetime' trip to Australia. It was a charter flight with 2 of his friends flying to another island to play golf," her message read.

The killed pilot was Max Quartermain, owner of the charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel.

The two other Americans were not identified as of Tuesday morning Eastern time.

Miraculously, Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said no one outside the plane was injured.

Read: 'Engine Failure!' Hear Harrison Ford Alert Airport of Plane Going Down in 2015 Crash

"Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt," Leane told reporters.

More than 60 firefighters worked to stop the blaze, which consumed parts of the mall as well as cars parked outside it.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.