LANSING, WEST SUSSEX, England, Aug. 24 (Andrew V. Pestano) — Up to 20 people may have been killed resulting from the recent military jet crash during Britain’s Shoreham Air Show, police announced on Monday.
“The number of highly likely dead remains at 11, but may rise,” Sussex Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said. “However, we do not expect that figure to be greater than 20, probably fewer.”
The original estimate of the crash was seven deaths. Recovery teams began gathering bodies on Saturday soon after the plane crashed while attempting an airborne maneuver.
Matt Jones, 24, and Matthew Grimstone, 23, a soccer player for the Worthing United team, were the first confirmed deaths.
The removal of bodies may continue through Monday, according to Barry.
The Royal Air Forces Association, which organizes the air show event, defended its safety record, according to BBC News.
“Pilots and aircraft must meet rigorous safety requirements,” which are regularly reviewed to ensure the “highest possible levels of protection,” according to the association, adding it took “safety arrangements very seriously” before the annual event.
Hill was flying a Hawker Hunter — a subsonic military jet widely used by the Royal Air Force during the 1950s and 1960s — when he lost control of the aircraft and plunged to the ground on the A27 motorway.
The plane exploded into a massive fireball and Hill ejected, the Royal Air Force Association said.
Witnesses at the air show said the pilot of the Hawker had just taken off and was attempting to perform a loop when he crashed.
The Hawker Hunter was first introduced into the Royal Air Force in the early 1950s and was a staple in the branch for years. The aircraft is still used by the RAF to train pilots.
Saturday’s is the second deadly accident at the Shoreham Air Show in the last decade. In 2007, a pilot was killed when he attempted an unplanned barrel roll in a World War II plane while re-enacting the Battle of Britain.
Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.