Two people were feared dead tonight after a light aircraft clipped trees and crashed into a lake, the fire service said.
The two-seater plane, which is thought to be a vintage Yak and capable of aerobatics, was one of three aircraft flying in formation before it came down, witnesses told rescuers.
The emergency services were working to recover the bodies from the wreckage, which lay at the bottom of a deep and "murky" private fishing lake in Maldon, Essex.
Assistant divisional officer Dave Barritt said: "A crash investigation will be carried out but we have found some debris at the side of the lake and the plane is completely submerged so it appears that the aircraft clipped the trees before ditching into the lake."
Mr Barritt, the incident commander for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said initial reports suggested that, before the crash, the three vintage light aircraft were flying in formation over the area, a common sight in the skies above Essex ahead of a series of air shows this summer.
The two people on board at the time are feared dead, he said.
He added that the plane crashed into the middle of the lake near Ulting Lane in Langdon village, Maldon, which is both "murky" and deep.
It had taken off from North Weald airfield in Essex earlier today.
Underwater photographs of the wreckage were being studied by rescue crews on the ground, Mr Barritt said.
Earlier, a fire service spokesman said: "Reports from the scene confirm that the aircraft has nosedived into the lake.
"Its tail end is approximately 10ft (3m) under water with the nose of the plane pointing down."
An Essex Police spokesman said: "Two people are believed to have been on board the aircraft. It appears that no-one has survived.
"The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been notified and will be attending."Reuse content