VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A twin-engine plane crashed into the ninth floor of a suburban Vancouver apartment building Friday, killing the pilot and injuring at least two people in the building, officials said.
Fire crews evacuated the 15-story building in Richmond after residents reported smelling aviation fuel, but the accident didn't spark a blaze, officials said.
Only one unit sustained structural damage but no other residents were being allowed back into the building right away, police Cpl. Nycki Basra, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the suburb, said Friday night.
There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash. Airport officials said the Piper Seneca had taken off from Vancouver International Airport en route to suburban Pitt Meadows several miles to the east.
It quickly ran into trouble and slammed into the north side of the Rosario Gardens apartments just east of the airport, officials said.
"We've got one person who was the occupant of the plane who is deceased," Basra said.
The two residents of the ninth-floor apartment were taken to a hospital. One of them likely sustained "significant and serious injuries," said Christy Hillen, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Ambulance Service.
Basra said some other people were treated at the scene for apparently minor injuries but did not have details.
Police threw up a perimeter around the crash scene near one of Richmond's busiest intersections at the height of the Friday afternoon rush hour.
A shaken Crystal Mason said she was driving with her husband and young son when she saw the plane flying erratically.
"I knew it was in trouble. It was going way too fast," said Mason, 28. "I knew it was going to crash. I really did. My thing was 'My God we're in downtown Richmond, where's it crashing?"'
Witnesses who called radio and TV stations to describe what they saw said the plane sounded odd as it tilted downward. Television footage of the building showed several windows on the ninth floor smashed in, but no part of the aircraft was visible.
A Piper Seneca is capable of carrying five passengers and a pilot.
Rick Eng, whose apartment building is near the crash site, said residents have been concerned for some time about low-flying small aircraft.
"There's a couple of times there's a plane flying right above our buildings," he told The Canadian Press. "They're a little bit too low. I'm kind of wondering, is it necessary?"