BRUSSELS — A plane carrying parachutists for a skydiving trip crashed in southern Belgium on Saturday, killing all 11 people aboard, officials said.
Minutes after the aircraft took off from a small airfield near the city of Namur, witnesses saw part of a wing break off, sending the plane into a spiraling nosedive and crash in a field close to Fernelmont town, said its mayor, Jean-Claude Nihoul.
The skydivers and their instructors "were not able to jump out," Nihoul said in a telephone interview.
Everyone aboard was killed and no one was hurt on the ground, he said, adding that three parachutes were found near the crash site. No information was immediately available about what caused the accident.
The Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter plane carrying the instructors and skydiving pupils took off in partly cloudy conditions over the wooded and hilly area about 40 miles (60 kilometers) south of Brussels.
Nicolas Hormans of the Paraclub Namur, whose skydivers were among the victims, told RTL network that the plane was probably about 3 kilometers (2 miles) high when it suddenly went down. He said the nosedive would have thrown everyone aboard around with such force that they would not have been able to jump out and parachute to safety.
Such plane crashes in Belgium, a small country of 11 million people, are fairly rare.
Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo quickly issued a statement confirming the crash and saying his thoughts are with the families of the victims. King Phillipe was expected the visit the scene later Saturday.
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