A skydiving plane crashed and burned shortly after taking off from a coastal airfield on the island of Oahu, which resulted in the death of the 11 people on board, authorities said Saturday.
At first it was reported that nine people had lost their lives in the incident on Friday and that of the deceased, three were clients of a parachuting company and six were employees.
However, the Hawaii Department of Transportation tweeted on Saturday that authorities later “confirmed that 11 people were on the aircraft” and no one survived. The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air took off from the Dillingham airfield on the island’s north coast.
After leaving, the plane turned around and apparently was returning to the airfield, but it passed over some trees and crashed near the perimeter fence, witness Steven Tickemeyer told news channel KHON.
“We arrived at the place a couple of minutes later and the whole plane was on fire,” he added.
The parachute company Oahu Parachute Center operated the device, and the relationship between employees and customers on board suggests that tandem jumps would be made, in which customers jump from the aircraft subject to experienced paratroopers , spokesperson Tim Sakahara told reporters. of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
The plane crashed “a good distance from the runway”, and some relatives of those who were on the plane were at the airfield when the disaster struck around 6:30 in the afternoon, said the Honolulu police chief.
Manuel Neves continued, “In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic air incident we have ever had,” he added.
The wreckage was on fire by the time the firefighters arrived at the site, located about an hour’s drive away from Honolulu, Neves said. The name of the victims was not released.
Two inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA, for its acronym in English) went to the place where the wreckage was left on Friday, and it was expected that investigators of the National Board of Transportation Safety will arrive on Saturday. in the afternoon, said Eric Weis, spokesman for the board.