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UPDATE: Navy jet crashes into Virginia Beach apartments, pilots eject

Friday, April 6, 2012 | 1:21 p.m. CDT; updated 1:58 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 6, 2012
The burning fuselage of an F/A-18 Hornet lies smoldering after crashing into a residential building in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday. The Navy did not immediately return telephone messages left by The Associated Press, but media reports indicate the two aviators were able to eject from the jet before it crashed. They were being treated for injuries that were not considered life threatening.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Navy jet crashed and set fire to an apartment complex Friday in Virginia Beach, Va., 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 that 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, though 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 said 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.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state is providing immediate resources and assistance 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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