BRUSSELS – A plane carrying parachutists planning to celebrate a birthday with a skydive crashed in Belgium on Saturday, killing all 11 people aboard.
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.
The victims were almost all between the ages of 20 and 40, Nihoul said. “There were 11 on board, and the trip was a birthday present for one of them,” he added.
Everyone aboard was killed and no one was hurt on the ground, Nihoul said, adding that three parachutes were found near the crash site. “Some were trying to get out but could not,” he said.
The Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter plane took off in partly cloudy conditions over the wooded and hilly area about 40 miles south of Brussels.