Five people, including two pilots and two maintenance engineers were killed, when a small chartered plane crashed into an under-construction building in north-east Mumbai's Ghatkopar suburb this afternoon.
But the disaster could have been far worse.
Minutes before the crash that took place around 1:15 pm, about four dozen labourers who are usually working at the building stepped out for lunch.
Such was the severity of the crash, that it created a crater on impact. The fuselage had broken into several pieces and one piece was recovered at least 50 metres away while some other portions of the plane were seen burning in thick black smoke in the premises of an under-construction building.
The victims have been identified as Captain Pradeep Rajput, Captain Mariya, aircraft maintenance engineer Surabhi, who news agency IANS reports was more than two months pregnant, and her colleague, an aircraft junior technician Manish Pandey, both of Indamer Aviation Pvt Ltd.
A passerby, Govind Pandit, was burnt to death when some burning fuel from the aircraft fell on him, said an eyewitness who was among the first to reach the spot.
Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel tweeted that the pilot saved many lives at the cost of her own, by swerving to avoid crashing in a busy area. "Saddened to hear about the unfortunate incident at #ghatkopar as Charter plane crashes in an open area. Salute to the pilot who showed presence of mind to avoid a big mishap, saving many lives at the cost of her own life. #RIP to all the 5 Dead. My deepest condolences (sic)" he tweeted.
The plane, a Beechcraft King Air C 90 turboprop, was sold by the Uttar Pradesh government to a Mumbai-based UY aviation company in 2014. "The deal was done after the plane had met with an accident in Allahabad," UP official Avnish Awasthi was quoted as telling ANI.
The black box of the aircraft has been recovered and civil aviation watchdog DGCA has already started a preliminary probe into what caused the crash. Teams from the DGCA and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting or ARFF have already begun collecting evidence from the crash site.