Four American tourists and an Australian pilot died after their light aircraft crashed into a shopping centre in Melbourne, Australia.

The twin-engine Beechcraft B200 King Air appeared to have had a “catastrophic engine failure” shortly after taking off from the small Essendon airport, said police.

Despite the destruction, no-one was killed or injured on the ground, the BBC reported.

The aircraft was bound for Tasmania’s King Island when it came down on a warehouse to the rear of the shopping centre, which was not open to the public at the time.

An investigation into the crash at 9am local time on Tuesday is to be carried out by the Australian Transport Safety Board.

Essendon airport, mostly used by light aircraft, is about aight miles north-west of central Melbourne.

It was closed, but the city’s main hubs for commercial air traffic – Melbourne airport and Avalon airport – remained open.

Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said it was the worst civilian aviation accident in the state in 30 years.

“Today is a desperately sad day,” he said.