5 killed, including 4 Americans, in Australian charter plane crash

PHOTO: This image made from video shows the site of a plane crash at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.PlayChannel 9 via AP Photo
WATCH 5 killed, including 4 Americans, in Australian charter plane crash

Four Americans were among five killed when a plane crashed into a shopping center shortly after takeoff near Melbourne, Australia, authorities said.

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The plane had taken off from Essendon Airport around 9 a.m. local time and suffered a "catastrophic engine failure" in the air, according to Victoria Police’s Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane.

The pilot attempted to return to the airport and crashed into the DFO shopping center, Leane said. There were no fatalities on the ground, Leane said.

A State Department official confirmed that four U.S. citizens were aboard the flight. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today’s tragic crash," the official said.

Victoria's premier, Daniel Andrews, called the incident the “worst civil aviation accident in our state” in 30 years.

The identities of those who died and the nationality of the fifth victim were not immediately known.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in today’s tragic crash," a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Canberra said.