An Indian Navy plane performing aerobatics at an air show crashed into a two-storeyed residential building in a crowded area on Wednesday killing its two pilots and injuring two persons on the ground.

The Navy has grounded the entire fleet of 20 Kiran trainer aircraft following the crash, a Navy statement said.

The Kiran MK II trainer — part of the four-plane ‘Sagar Pawan’ aerobatic team — failed to pull up from a dive, went out of control into a spiral and hit the building as the planes were breaking away from the formation and going in different directions in a tragic start to airshow India Aviation 2010.

The Navy statement said besides Commander S.K. Maurya and Lt Commander Rahul Nair, one unidentified civilian has died. Two civilians were injured, police said.

Eyewitnesses said the plane suddenly plummeted, followed by a loud explosion and a huge mushroom shaped cloud of smoke.

The crash occured within 15 minutes of the start of the show.

They said the plane crashed into a mobile phone tower atop the building bringing down the tower and the water tank.

“It was spiralling and then it crashed”, said Loth Mallaiah, who lives on the ground floor of the building which was severely damaged.

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said the pilots could not eject. Some eyewitnesses however reported seeing one pilot trying to jump out.

“The aircraft went out of control. But the cause of the crash was not immediately known,” Admiral Verma told reporters in shortly after the crash at New Bowenpally area, about four kms from the Old Begumpet Airport. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the incident, he said.

“The possibility (of not ejecting) is either timewise there was a problem or they (the pilots) were making all efforts to ensure that damage is minimised to any civil area.”

The week-long event will continue as scheduled, Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel said.