Emergency workers were searching for the occupants of six homes last night after a US Navy jet crashed into a group of apartment buildings.
Several residents were unaccounted for as the rescuers picked their way through buildings that bore the brunt of the damage. They held out little hope of survivors if anyone was inside at the time of the impact.
Two crew ejected from the F/A-18 Hornet moments before the aircraft crashed on the outskirts of Virginia Beach, in the eastern United States. More than 25 apartments were damaged but a worse explosion was avoided because much of the fuel was dumped before impact.
Seven people were injured, including the student pilot and instructor, and a firefighter.
The jet crashed shortly after take-off. George Pilkington, an eyewitness, told CNN: "It came over the top of my truck emptying fuel. When the initial impact happened, there was debris and pieces of the airplane flying everywhere."
The fighter and crew were from a training squadron at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach.