Britons feared dead as seaplane crashes into river near Sydney
Four Britons are feared to be among six people killed when a seaplane crashed into a river near Sydney, Australia.
A pilot and five passengers were on board the aircraft when it came down off Jerusalem Bay near Cowan, at around 3.10pm (4.10am GMT) on Sunday, New South Wales Police Force said.
Divers have recovered six bodies from the scene and an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the crash.
Local reports said four Britons are among the dead, but the Foreign Office has been unable to confirm any details.
A spokeswoman said: “Officials from the British consulate are in with local authorities in relation to a seaplane accident near Sydney.
“We stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
The single-engine plane, operated by tour company Sydney Seaplanes, “sunk rapidly” after hitting Hawkesbury River, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.
Sydney Seaplanes, which has flown passengers including singer Ed Sheeran and Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews, said it was “deeply shocked” by the “tragic accident”.
The ATSB said: “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).
“It is understood that there was one pilot and five passengers on the aircraft on a return flight to Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour.
UPDATE: Our Facebook post has bee updated with further information on this afternoon's seaplane accident at Cowan Creek, Hawkesbury, NSW. :
— ATSB ()
“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, which is north of Sydney, 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.
Statement from Sydney Seaplanes regarding the aircraft incident at the Hawkesbury River, 31 December 2017
— Sydney Seaplanes ()
“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.
Aaron Shaw, managing director of Sydney Seaplanes, 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 New South Wales Police, the Australian Transport Safety Board, Civil Aviation Safety Authority and other relevant authorities to understand the cause of the accident.”
Search after sea plane crash off
— NSW Police ()
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.
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