FIVE people were killed in Portugal today after a plane crashed on a lorry unloading outside a Lidl supermarket less than 500 feet from a primary school.The pilot died along with his three passengers and a Portuguese man on the ground thought to be the truck driver.The tragedy happened around midday just minutes after the plane, an eight-seater Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, took off from an aerodrome near the holiday resort of Cascais 15 miles west of Lisbon bound for the French port city of Marseilles.
It came down over the town of Tires after an apparent mid-air explosion, hitting the lorry outside the Lidl loading bay and at least one property on the ground as it fell and broke up causing plumes of black smoke to rise into the air.
Three of the occupants of the Swiss-registered plane, which belonged to a firm making orthopaedic protheses, were French and the fourth was Swiss.
Correio de Manha
Three other people were taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation.
Locals caught up in the drama told of their panic after the plane came down near the Padre Agostinho da Silva school.
One woman who escaped unharmed from inside the Lidl supermarket, known only as Alexandra, said: ““Everything started shaking like an earthquake and people began to scream and run in all directions.”
District Civil Protection chief Andre Fernandes confirmed: “We can confirm five people died and four suffered slight injuries, three of whom were taken to hospital.
“Alll the victims were adults. The dead include three French people and one Swiss national who were on the aircraft
“The alert was sounded at six minutes past midday.”
Video footage taken by onlookers showed a plume of black smoke rising from behind houses backing onto the supermarket.
Another showed the lorry parked outside the Lidl cargo depot engulfed in flames, next to a block of flats from which women could be heard screaming as the truck appeared to explode.
The plane is said to been authorised by air traffic controllers to make an immediate right turn before crashing, although nothing on the flight recordings appeared to indicate any obvious problems.
An air traffic controller can be heard saying: “Hotel Tango, Will you turn right immediately.”
Seconds later a second Portuguese-speaking pilot on another plane reported he had seen it crash.
Witnesses told respected daily Jornal de Noticias they had seen the aircraft performing “pirouettes in the air” before the crash.
Vitor Ferreira said: “It appeared to be doing acrobatics, pirouettes in the air.
“Three or four seconds after it disappeared I heard a very loud explosion and others afterwards as I started rushing towards the area.”
One 56-year-old woman had to be taken to hospital after suffering a panic attack when the plane came down feet from her flat as she watered her plants on her balcony with her grandson.
Neighbours said she managed to gather up the youngster and run to safety before the aircraft crashed.
Air accident investigators will now try to determine the cause of the tragedy.
A spokesman for Cascais Aerodrome said in a statement: “Cascais Aerodrome can confirm that at 12.05am local time, the flight of private operator Symbios Orthopedic, a P-31 light aircraft that had taken off from Cascais Aerodrome bound for Marseilles with three passengers and one crew member on board, suffered an accident outside of the aerodrome airspace.
“The aerodrome immediately activated its emergency plans and in this way activated an internal and external response to this accident.”
Nine people living in a property affected by the crash were told today/yesterday (MON) they couldn’t return to their homes for the time being.
Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited the scene of the accident at lunchtime today but left without making any comment.
The victims were expected to be named towards the end of the day when their bodies had been removed and properly identified.
Local authorities said this afternoon they were confident they had accounted for all the dead and injured.
culled from the Sun