At least 10 passengers on a parachute plane were killed alongside a pilot from a crash when it went down into a field in Belgium. Four of those on board had been seen desperately trying to get out after the aircraft caught fire.
However, they were unable to open their chutes before the accident near the town of Marchovelette, in the southern Namur region. The horrific accident took place at around 3.45pm after the aircraft had taken off from Temploux airfield, some 45 miles south east of Brussels, and hit the ground some ten minutes later. Jean-Claude Nihoul, the mayor of nearby Fernelmont, said there were “at least 10 passengers on board and probably one pilot.”
Nihoul said most of those on board had been due to take part in a parachute jump but “crashed around 10 minutes after take-off.”
One eyewitness told Belgium radio station RTL he saw “a plane lose its wing mid-flight and crash with a massive bang. I didn’t see anyone parachute out.” There were no survivors in the crash, which saw the plane burnt to a wreck by the time firefighters arrived. Neither the names nor nationalities of those killed were immediately available.
Belgian president Elio Di Rupo tweeted about the crash. His tweet translates to: “On the plane accident near Namur: My heartfelt thoughts go first and foremost to the victims, their families and their loved ones.”
Another witness involved in the rescue effort said: “The plane lost a wing, which was found up to a kilometer from the scene of the accident. Some spoke of an in-flight explosion, but I think the main explosion occurred on impact with the grown,” adding, “Pieces came off the plane, then it nosedived. There were reports of up to four parachutists trying to get out so as to jump to safety, but all were unsuccessful.”
A crisis centre has been set up to assist with relatives of victims, and those who saw the accident. Elio Di Rupo, the Belgian Prime Minister, said he was “hugely moved” by the tragic accident, and offered “sincere condolences” to all those connected to the deceased.