MSNBC has just reported that a jet fighter flown by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team crashed Saturday during an air show in South Carolina, according to local authorities and media reports. The county coroner's office said one person was killed.
Witnesses said the planes were flying in formation during the show at a Marine air base, and then one dropped down below the trees and apparently crashed.
"The next thing I seen was just a big black cloud of smoke," Gerald Popp, who lives nearby, told CNN.
A Navy official told NBC News there was an incident at the show, but did not say if anyone was injured.
Witnesses said one of the six Blue Angels jets disappeared as the planes flew low in close formation behind a grove of trees.
"They were doing maneuvers and generally when the planes loop around they cross the runway and then turn around and basically when they turned around we saw a cloud of black smoke," said Brett Hindshaw, a South African who was visiting Beaufort for the air show.
"We started counting and we saw five aircraft. Four of them landed but the lead pilot circled over the accident sight and then one or two military helicopters took off and went in that direction," he told Reuters by telephone.
"Then all the ambulances and military fire trucks stationed along the runway took off."
One witness, Fred Yelinek, told CNN the jet went down in a high-density residential area and debris hit at least one house and cars, but there was no sign of injuries to people on the ground. He said there was a "huge fireball" at the crash site.
"It's behind the tree line behind the naval air station, away from the ocean," said Hindshaw. "We can hear sirens in the distance, fire trucks and stuff beyond the trees."
More than 100,000 were expected to attend the air show, and the Blue Angels were the main attraction. The elite aerial-demonstration team, which is based at Pensacola Naval Air Station, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Beaufort is about 35 miles northwest of Hilton Head.
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I will continue to update as news comes out and everyone please keep these people and their families in your prayers and thoughts.
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