6 Jul 2014

Polish parachute plane down, 11 die

11:01 am on 6 July 2014

Eleven people have been killed when a plane carrying members of a parachute club crashed in southern Poland.

Rescue workers said only one of the 12 people on board survived and had suffered serious injuries.

In 2010, nine people were killed in New Zealand near the Fox Glacier tourist spot when their skydiving plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

The remains of the Polish Piper Navajo after the crash near Czestochowa killed 11 people.

The remains of the Polish Piper Navajo after the crash near Czestochowa killed 11 people. Photo: AFP

The Piper Navajo light aircraft had just taken off from an airfield in Rudniki near Czestochowa, the BBC reported. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Witnesses said the plane's engines had made an odd, droning sound before it began to fall from the sky.

Strange sounds

"It was flying from the south and the engine was making strange sounds," said Barbara Minczykiewicz, a resident of the nearby village of Topolow where the plane crashed.

"It was flying very low, close to houses. It tilted to one side on its wing," she told Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

Police spokeswoman Joanna Lazar said local people had helped to rescue the sole survivor.

"We have established that just after the crash local residents came running towards the wreckage and helped to save one of the passengers from the plane. A 40-year-old man was taken to hospital."

Another witness, Robert Koziol, told Gazeta Wyborcza it appeared some of the passengers had tried to jump from the twin-engine plane.

"There were open parachutes lying on the ground," the retired police officer said.

"The worst thing was that one person tried to get out of it (the plane) but slid back inside. We tried to help them, but there was nothing we could do. Everything was on fire, even the ground," he added.

Police and prosecutors have launched an investigation into the crash.

Since 2010 there have been at least four fatal accidents involving parachutists while being taken to their drop zones.