Eleven dead in plane crash in Belgium
Ten parachutists and their pilot died in a plane crash Saturday near the Belgian city of Namur, 60 kilometres south-east of Brussels, the city's mayor Maxime Prevot said according to Belga news agency.
The victims, who were taking part in a birthday celebration flight, were aged between 21 and 40, according to Interior Minister Joelle Milquet. None of those on board survived when the plane crashed into a field near the town of Fernelmont, dpa reported.
The cause of the accident is unclear. An investigation has been launched.
"It seems that the plane lost a wing in mid-flight, and it then went into a spin," Prevot said. A witness described the wing falling "like a dead leaf," according to broadcasters RTBF and RTL.
"Three open parachutes on the ground prove that three people tried to jump," said the mayor of Fernelmont, Jean-Claude Nihoul, according to Belga.
The accident took place at around 4 pm (1400 GMT) after the plane, a Swiss-built Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter, took off from nearby Temploux aerodrome.
The victims were all members of the same skydiving club, and many of their friends were waiting at the aerodrome for their return, RTL reported.
"All our thoughts go to the families of the victims," said Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who visited the site of the crash. Several of them left behind young children, Milquet said.
King Philippe also visited the scene of the accident. He later met the families of the victims at the Temploux aerodrome, together with Di Rupo and Milquet. Psychologists were also sent to help the families.