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.
They would never arrive. After the apparent mechanical failure, the pilot tried returning to the airport but it was too late.
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) February 21, 2017
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.
— David Bruce (@MFBChief) February 20, 2017
"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.
"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.