Six people have died after a sea plane crashed near Sydney, Australia. New South Wales Police Force said divers had recovered the bodies from the scene and an investigation was under way to identify the victims and determine the cause of the crash.
Six people including the pilot were on board the plane when it crashed off Jerusalem Bay near Cowan, north of Sydney, at around 3.10pm (4.10am Irish time) today, police said. Local reports said four Britons were among the dead.
New South Wales Police Force and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) are investigating the cause of the crash. The ATSB said the single-engine plane operated by Sydney Seaplanes is reported to have “sunk rapidly” after hitting the water.
“At around 3pm this afternoon, a DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane, VH-NOO, operated by Sydney Seaplanes was flying in the vicinity of Jerusalem Bay (near Cottage Point),” the bureau said. “It is understood that there was one pilot and five passengers on the aircraft on a return flight to Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour.
“The sequence of events leading up to the accident are not yet understood, however following the impact with the water, the aircraft is reported to have sunk rapidly.” 9News reported that the group had flown to a restaurant at Cottage Point and was returning to Rose Bay in the city’s eastern suburbs.
Myles Baptiste told the broadcaster he saw the plane flying towards him about 500 metres away when it hit the water. “It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nosedived straight into the water,” he said.
Sydney Seaplanes said it was “deeply shocked” by the “tragic accident” involving one of its aircraft.
Aaron Shaw, managing director, said in a statement: “All at Sydney Seaplanes are deeply shocked by this incident and the resulting loss of life.
“We wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the passengers and pilot who were tragically killed. “We do not yet know the cause of the accident.
“We are dedicating our full resources in assisting the NSW Police, the Australian Transport Safety Board, Civil Aviation Safety Authority and other relevant authorities to understand the cause of the accident.”
He added: “Sydney Seaplanes has been operating since 2005, have undertaken thousands of flights in that period and have had an unblemished safety record until now. “The safety of our passengers and staff is our absolute primary and highest priority.
“Our aircraft are professionally maintained to manufacturer’s specifications and our seaplane pilots are some of the most experienced in the world.”
The company has suspended all operations until further notice, Mr Shaw said.