Two planes collided in northern California while trying to land at a local airport on Thursday and at least two of the three occupants were killed, officials said.
The collision happened at Watsonville Municipal Airport shortly before 3 p.m., according to a tweet from the City of Watsonville. The city-owned airport does not have a control tower to direct aircraft landing and take-off.
There were two people aboard a twin-engine Cessna 340 and only the pilot aboard a single-engine Cessna 152 during the accident, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials say multiple deaths were reported, but it was not immediately clear if anyone survived.
The pilots were on final approach to the airport when the collision occurred, the FAA said in a statement. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, which did not immediately have additional details, are investigating the crash.
No one on the ground was injured. The airport has four runways and is home to more than 300 planes, according to its website. It handles over 55,000 operations a year and is often used for recreational aircraft and agricultural businesses.
Watsonville, near Monterey Bay, is about 100 miles south of San Francisco.
Photos and videos of the scene posted on social media showed the wreckage of a small plane in a grassy field near the airport. A photo showed a plume of smoke visible from a street near the airport.
A photo from the city of Watsonville showed damage to a small building at the airport, with firefighters at the scene.
The planes were about 200 feet (61 meters) in the air when they crashed, a witness told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Franky Herrera was passing the airport when he saw the twin-engine plane bank sharply to the right and hit the wing of the smaller plane, which ‘just rolled up and crashed’ near the edge from the airfield and not far from the houses, he told the newspaper.
The twin-engine aircraft continued to fly but “it was struggling,” Herrera said, then saw flames on the other side of the airport.
The Watsonville Municipal Airport manager was unavailable for a phone interview in the hours following the crash. The airport accounts for about 40% of all general aviation activity in the Monterey Bay Area, according to the City of Watsonville website.
The Watsonville Police Department referred the calls to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, where a dispatcher had no information.
Two other pilots were also injured in plane crashes elsewhere in California on Thursday.
A 65-year-old San Diego man suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries when his single-engine plane crashed into a street near a busy freeway overpass in El Cajon, authorities said .
The plane reportedly hit an SUV but no one on the ground was injured in the town nearly 20 miles northeast of downtown San Diego.
Later, the pilot of an ultralight plane was seriously injured when it crashed upside down into a building at Camarillo Airport in Ventura County, about 60 miles from downtown from Los Angeles.