Shoreham air crash: Police fear death toll 'may rise'

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe 1950s Hawker Hunter jet crashed into several cars on a nearby road causing a large fireball

More bodies may be found after a vintage jet crashed, killing seven people, while performing at an air show in West Sussex, police have said.

Air crash investigators and emergency services will continue to search the crash scene on Sunday.

The Hawker Hunter failed to complete a loop-the-loop at the Shoreham Air Show and descended into the A27 on Saturday.

The pilot was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and is "fighting for his life", police say.

He has been named locally as Andy Hill, a former RAF pilot.

Seven people died and a further 14 people were injured, four of whom were taken to hospital, when the jet crashed at 13:20 BST on Saturday.

image copyrightPA
image captionThe pilot has been named locally as Andy Hill

"It is possible that tonight [Saturday] and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene," said Supt Jane Derrick of Sussex Police.

The force said it received about 40 calls from people concerned their relatives may have died or been injured in the crash.

image copyrightArchie Tipple
image captionEyewitness Archie Tipple was photographing the plane as it fell below roof top level
image copyrightJP Rowe
image captionThe plane crashed, close to Lancing College, at about 13:20 BST on Saturday
image copyrighteddie mitchell
image captionThe Hawker Hunter is believed to have crashed after attempting a loop
image captionThe A27 was closed in both directions

'Massive fireball'

Roger Smith, a former air accident investigator, told BBC Radio 5 live the probe into the incident would involve looking at "absolutely everything".

Video footage of the show will allow experts to "see exactly what's happening with the aircraft", he said.

Investigators will also look at the pilot's health records, maintenance of the aircraft and any previous problems with the plane, he said.

The plane would have been maintained to a "very high standard" despite its age, he added. "It's not just a matter of sticking one in a hangar and having a look at it every now and again."

media captionThe pilot of the Hawker Hunter jet is in a critical condition, as Caroline Rigby reports
image captionThe first floral tributes have been tied to the perimeter fence

At the scene: Nick Tarver, BBC News

Unlike the blue skies of yesterday, the site is overcast and grey.

I can see two abandoned cars that were damaged in the crash and subsequent fireball - the backs of the vehicles are smashed in.

Police have put up a large cordon surrounding the crash site as air crash investigators continue their work. The police tape runs for about two miles along two junctions of the main A27 trunk road that connects the Sussex coastal towns.

It looks as though some people who were at the show yesterday are still here. I'm seeing people leaving in dribs and drabs, and I can hear a mournful bagpipe being played near the airport.

The first floral tributes have been tied to the perimeter fence of the air field.

And people have held a minute's silence for the people who died at a service at St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham.

media captionThe bodies of more victims may be found, Superintendent Jane Derrick, from Sussex Police says

The A27 remained shut in both directions and is not expected to re-open for the "next couple of days", police added.

Supt Derrick also apologised to drivers who were made to wait at the airfield while congestion cleared.

'Ominous black clouds'

People who had to leave their cars at Shoreham Airport were told on Sunday they could collect their vehicles.

Only cars could be collected because of a height restriction on the route. Police said vans, people carriers and similar-sized vehicles would have a further wait.

Prime Minister David Cameron has sent his "heartfelt condolences" to the families of those who died in the crash.

Eyewitnesses have been describing their shock as they watched the plane fall and explode into flames.

image copyrightPeter Machin
image captionAir Accident investigators are investigating why the plane crashed, seen here at North Weald, in Essex, last month,

Tim Loughton MP, who represents East Worthing and Shoreham, tweeted: "Tragic news that there have been fatalities at the Shoreham Air Show crash and our thoughts and prayers must be with the families and casualties."

He said "many personal tragedies" would emerge.

The plane involved in the crash was based at North Weald Airfield in Essex which is under the jurisdiction of Epping Forest District Council.

Council leader Chris Whitbread said he was shocked at the news and offered his condolences.

image captionA minute's silence was held at St Mary de Haura

A minute's silence was held in the West Sussex seaside town the morning after the crash.

At St Mary de Haura Church, the Reverend Canon Paul Rampton said people in Shoreham would never forget the "ominous black clouds that must have been visible from miles around".

He said people were only just beginning to know the full extent of what happened.

"There are no easy answers when terrible things happen," he added.

Adur District Council chairman Carson Albury said the tragedy had "touched everyone" - the families of those affected and also people who were at the airport and saw what happened on Saturday.

He said such incidents brought the "robust" community together.

Air shows in the UK have seen a number of accidents over the past decade.

It is the second incident at the Shoreham Airshow, one of the premier airshows in the UK, in recent years.

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

Hawker Hunter

image copyrighteddie mitchell
image captionThe Hawker Hunter flew over crowds during the display at Shoreham Airshow

The Hawker Hunter was a mainstay of the RAF through the 1950s and early 1960s.

First flown in 1951, the single-seat plane was used as a fighter, fighter-bomber for reconnaissance and for aerobatics.

There was also a two-seat trainer version, which served with many other air forces. Two-seater variants are still used by the RAF for training.

The Hawker Hunter was deployed in major operations such as Malaya and Suez.

The plane was also flown by an RAF display team dubbed the "Black Arrows".

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