HELSINKI >> Swedish officials said a small plane carrying parachutists crashed in northern Sweden soon after takeoff on Sunday and all nine people on board were killed.
The accident took place a little after 2 p.m. local time on Storsandskar island. Swedish media quoted witnesses reporting that some of the parachutists were seen trying to jump off the plane just before the crash.
Swedish airport authority Swedavia said the crashed aircraft was a GippsAero GA8 Airvan, an Australian-made single-engine plane popular with parachutists, that took off from Umea Airport. The cause of the crash is not yet known.
“I can confirm that all those aboard the plane have died,” Region Vasterbotten municipality spokeswoman Gabriella Bandling said.
One witness told Swedish broadcaster SVT she heard a loud noise from above before she saw the plane going straight down and crashing into the island.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven expressed “great sadness” over the accident in a statement to Swedish news agency TT.
He sent condolences to the families of the victims and said the government would stay in close touch with officials probing the crash “as it is important to investigate the cause.”
(The fatal accident comes less than a month after a similar accident on Oahu. On June 21, a Beechcraft 65-A90 aircraft with 11 people on board crashed soon after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia. All people on board were killed. The state Department of Transportation later revealed that the plane’s operator, Oahu Parachute Center LLC, did not have a permit on file for the skydiving operation or an aircraft registration for the lane. The accident was the worst U.S. civilian aircraft crash since 2011.)
Honolulu Star-Advertiser staff contributed to this report.