Authorities in Hawaii are investigating after 11 people were killed in a skydiving plane crash on the North Shore of Oahu, with the aircraft fully ablaze when emergency crews arrived.
Authorities initially reported that nine people died in the crash, saying three of them were customers of a skydiving company and six were employees.
But the Hawaii Department of Transportation tweeted Saturday that officials later “confirmed there were 11 people on board the plane” and no survivors.
The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air plane took off from Dillingham Airfield on the north shore of the island.
PLANE CRASH TRAGEDY: A skydiving plane crashed in the island of Oahu, Hawaii, killing 9 people; making it the deadliest civilian plane accident in the U.S. since 2015. https://t.co/NysmgtibK4 pic.twitter.com/8gmEesMmPT
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) June 22, 2019
The plane turned around after it took off and appeared to be heading back to the airfield when it skimmed over some trees and crashed near the airfield’s perimeter fence, a witness told local television news.
Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said the twin engine King Air plane was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.
Family members of people aboard the aircraft were at the airport when the crash occurred, with Hawaii News Now quoting Mr Neves as saying they may have seen the plane go down.
“It is very difficult. In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic aircraft incident we’ve had,” Mr Neves said.
“We had some helicopters with the military, but this is a civilian plane with that many people on board.”
He confirmed the plane was being used as part of a skydiving operation.
The plane wreckage was found far from the small airfield’s runway, near perimeter fencing.
— Breaking Aviation News (@breakingavnews) June 22, 2019
Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said whether the plane was landing or taking off at the time of the crash was not immediately known.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell expressed his sympathy for the families of the victims, while witnesses reported seeing fire shooting 4.5 metres into the air.
Names of the victims have not been released.
According to Hawaii News Now, the crash is one of the deadliest civilian airplane disasters in Hawaii’s modern history, with nine people also dying in a crash in 1992.