A small airplane crashed Friday evening on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii, killing all nine people aboard.
The twin engine King Air plane was used in skydiving, authorities said.
“Upon arrival, we saw the plane fully engulfed in fire,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves told reporters, The Associated Press reported. “The first crews on scene extinguished the fire.”
The plane went down near Dillingham Airfield, Hawaii’s Department of Transportation said. Hawaii DOT runs the airfield on a lease from the U.S. Army; it includes a single 5,000-foot runway primarily used for commercial gliders and skydiving.
“In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic aircraft incident we’ve had,” Neves told reporters.
Neves said it appeared to have crashed shortly after taking off but was unable to confirm that. He added that family members of the victims were nearby in the airport’s tower.
Hawaii News Now reports the plane was a Beechcraft 65 King Air operated by the Oahu Parachute Center. Of the nine who died, three were customers and six were employees, according to the news service.
Oahu Parachute Center’s website advertises jumps from either 10,000 feet or 14,000 feet using a King Air 90, “the fastest skydiving plane in Hawaii.”
“I am closely following the tragic developments out of Dillingham Airfield this evening,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said on Twitter. “At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.”
The FAA and NTSB will be investigating, Hawaii News Now reports.
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