At least seven dead after small jet crashes on A27 in England

Fireballs erupt amid incident near Shoreham Airport as air display takes place

Smoke following a crash involving a plane near Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, England. Photograph: @NDH37087/Twitter/PA Wire

At least seven deaths have been confirmed after a plane crashed near the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, England, on Saturday afternoon.

The aircraft, performing at the airshow, is believed to have been a Hawker Hunter, a single-seat jet, and is thought to have come down on the major A27 route, where it hit cars as it crashed.

Onlookers watched as two fireballs erupted near a tree line before plumes of thick black smoke billowed into the air.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service of the NHS Foundation Trust confirmed seven people had died in the crash, and that one patient with serious life-threatening injuries had been transported to Royal Sussex County Hospital.


A further 14 patients are being treated for minor injuries.

The trust declared a major incident following the crash.

One eyewitness, tweeting as Jon B, said: “It [the plane] turned from the north by Lancing College, went to go low towards the airfield and went behind some trees below where I was.

“Then there was a crunch sound and a ball of flames and thick black smoke came up from the ground.”

West Sussex Police said there were “several casualties” and advised motorists to avoid the A27 for the rest of the day as emergency services deal with the crash.

A spokesman said: “At about 1.20pm the aircraft hit several cars on the A27 just to the north of Shoreham Airport, where an air display is taking place.

“The aircraft ended up in a bush. There have been several casualties but we have no further information on these at the moment.

“The A27 has been closed in both directions and drivers are asked to avoid the area until further notice.”

Shoreham Airshow tweeted: “There has been a major incident outside the airfield boundary. The emergency services are responding. Updates will follow when available.”

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said: “The AAIB is aware of the incident and we will be deploying a team to investigate.”

Laura Raymond, a presenter for West Sussex radio station Splash FM, said the incident happened less than a quarter of a mile from where crowds and families were watching the event.

She said a “couple of planes” were taking part in a jet display when one appeared to fly too close to the ground before onlookers saw a “huge ball of fire and black smoke”.

She told Sky News: “We were watching the displays ... and the fast jets were going on. To the best of our knowledge the Hawker Hunter T-7 display was under way.

“Within seconds we were thinking, ‘Gosh, that plane is going rather low’. There was a ball of fire, we didn’t even hear an impact, and then plumes of black smoke.”

Raymond said commentators at the event were describing the situation to the crowds as a “tragic incident”, and that it had happened outside the airfield boundary.

It is the second such incident at the Shoreham Airshow in less than a decade.

In September 2007 James Bond stuntman Brian Brown (49), died when he crashed a second World War Hurricane after carrying out an unplanned barrel roll at a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain.

The Highways Agency said the cloverleaf interchange at Lancing, West Sussex, has been closed in both directions.

Press Association