Belgium plane crash: 11 parachutists killed near Namur

Witnesses saw the plane as losing height very suddenly and quickly, before crashing in a field

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The Independent Online

A plane crash in Belgium killed all 11 passengers on Saturday, the country's Prime Minister has confirmed.

The passengers, aged from 21 to 40, were on a birthday skydiving trip when the plane plunged 20 minutes after take-off from a small airfield near Namur, 35 miles south-east of Brussels.

According to Jean-Claude Nihoul, mayor of nearby Fernelmont , witnesses described the plane as losing height very suddenly and quickly, before crashing in a field in the town.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Nihoul said the ten skydivers and a pilot "were not able to jump out," and according to witnesses cited by The Times,  three of those on board tried to parachute to safety.

No one was hurt on the ground, and three parachutes were found near the crash site, Mr Nihoul said.

Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo confirmed the news of the crash and said his thoughts were with the families of the victims. Both he and King Philippe visited the crash site.

The Belgian newspaper La Denière Heure has reported that the single-engine Pilatus plane was also involved in a less serious crash in 2000.

Then, all 11 passengers were injured but no one was killed. The plane was rebuilt and reregistered before it started flying again two years later.

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