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Three Dead And 56 Injured At Air Show Crash

Three people have been killed and at least 56 injured after a World War II fighter plane crashed at an air show in the US state of Nevada.

The vintage plane spiralled out of control and crashed into a VIP area at the Reno Air Races.

The elderly pilot of the P-51 Mustang was among the dead.

Video taken from the stands and posted on YouTube showed a plane crashing nose-down during the race against several other aircraft.

The air show is hugely popular, drawing thousands of spectators annually.

After the crash, on the third lap of the race, witnesses could be heard gasping: “Oh, my God.”

A huge brown cloud rose up moments after the crash and debris was strewn at high velocity over a wide area.

It is believed the plane climbed to an altitude of 400ft before plunging at a steep angle into the ground.

Michael Houghton, chief executive of the Reno Air Racing Association, told a news conference the crash was “considered a mass casualty situation.”

Stephanie Kruse, a spokeswoman for the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, said emergency crews took a total of 56 injury victims to three hospitals.

She said they also observed a number of people being transported by private vehicle, which they are not including in their count.

Ms Kruse said of the 56 injured, 15 were considered in critical condition.

Another 13 were serious condition with potentially life-threatening injuries and 28 were non-serious or non-life threatening.

Mike Draper, a spokesman for the race organisers, said the plane was piloted by 80-year-old Jimmy Leeward.

He is an octogenarian and well-known local veteran airman and movie stunt pilot who was flying a P-51 Mustang called “The Galloping Ghost.”

Authorities were investigating the cause, but an official with the event said there were indications that mechanical problems were to blame.

In a June video posted at the website for the air race, Leeward said the Galloping Ghost raced from 1946 to 1950 in the Cleveland Air Races.

He said his crew cut 10ft off the plane’s length and made other modifications to improve its aerodynamic abilities and reach speeds of 500mph.