Los Angeles: A small plane crashed into a residential area of a California city on Monday, killing at least two people as a blaze devoured two houses and several vehicles. Aerial footage showed firefighters hosing down the charred remains of the residences in Santee, a suburb of San Diego.
A burned out delivery truck was also seen on a nearby street corner. Fox 5 San Diego reported the plane was a twin-engine Cessna 340, a six-seat aircraft that had departed from Yuma, Arizona an hour earlier.
According to media reports, the plane was owned by an Indian-origin Cardiologist who was among the two killed. Dr Sugata Das, who worked as an Interventional Cardiologist at Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) in Arizona, owned the small plane, according to the centre. However, there’s no confirmation whether Das was the pilot at the time of the crash on Monday, KYMA.com, a CBS/NBC-affiliated TV station, reported on Tuesday.
“We are deeply sad to hear news of a plane owned by local cardiologist Sugata Das, which crashed near Santee (California),” YRMC’s Chief Medical Officer Bharat Magu said in a statement.
“As an outstanding cardiologist and dedicated family man, Das leaves a lasting legacy. We extend our prayers and support to his family, colleagues, and friends during this difficult time,” Magu said.
Another person who died was a UPS worker who was on the ground.
UPS confirmed that one of its employees was killed during the plane crash. “We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.” KXTV, an ABC affiliate, reported, citing a statement issued by the UPS.
“We do not yet know how many people were on board,’ it said.
Born in a Bengali family, Das grew up in Pune. He was also the director of the Power of Love Foundation, a US non-profit organisation that is involved in helping women and children overseas that are infected or affected by AIDS and HIV, according to its website.
The website said Das, the father of two boys, lived in San Diego and was the owner of a twin-engine Cessna 340 and an instrument-rated pilot who flew between his home and Yuma. There was no sign of the plane's remains from the aerial footage.
Fire official Justin Matsushita said at least two people had died in the incident. "It's a pretty brutal scene for our guys and we're trying to comb through it," he told reporters.
Neighbours spoke of the whine of a falling plane followed by a loud "boom" as it crashed. Several of them recounted how they had rushed towards the burning buildings, where they had helped people with burns to get out.
The nearby Santana High School tweeted that all of its students were safe.
"All Students are Secure. There was a plane crash 2 or 3 blocks away," the @SantanaSultans account wrote.
Last month two US military pilots were hospitalised after their training jet crashed into the backyard of a residence in a neighborhood near Fort Worth, Texas.