WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Navy began distributing emergency relief checks on Monday to people left homeless after a fighter jet crashed and destroyed much of an apartment complex last week in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Five residents were injured and six buildings damaged when the F/A-18D from nearby Naval Air Station Oceana slammed into the Mayfair Mews complex just after noon (1600 GMT) on Friday, setting several buildings ablaze and partially destroying the others.
The two aviators ejected safely from the plane with minor injuries.
Virginia Beach fire officials said on Saturday that some 60 residents of the complex may have been left homeless by the crash.
Navy officials met with residents on Sunday to start the process of helping with housing, meals and clothing. Initial payments begin at $2,300 for an individual resident and more for family members, the Navy said in a statement.
“We are committed to doing the right thing to address the needs of these families, who through no fault of their own have endured an incredible hardship,” said Rear Admiral Tim Alexander, commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic region.
The Navy said it has set up a call center to assist residents who provide documentation that they were affected by the crash. It had legal representatives at the Mayfair Mews on Monday to help residents fill out claims forms and to answer questions about compensation.
Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber, a spokesman at the Pentagon, said the jet “suffered a catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during a training flight.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
A separate Navy statement said that investigators were examining the crash site and would study the aircraft’s incident recorder. Parts of the plane’s fuselage and wings were to be removed on Monday, but the engines will be left at the scene at least during the initial investigation this week.
The aviators have been released from the hospital, the statement said.
Reporting By David Alexander; additional reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Xavier Briand