New Zealand skydivers forced to make emergency jump after plane plunges into lake

The plane encountered problems shortly after take-off

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The Independent Online

All 13 people on board a New Zealand skydiving plane have survived after being forced to don parachutes and jump out moments before it crashed into a lake, police said.

Apparently suffering from engine failure, the plane encountered problems shortly after take-off.

Robbie Graham, an artist who works at the Wildwood Art Gallery in the town of Waitahanui, said he was standing in front of the gallery when he saw people in parachutes coming down above the lake about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away.

"I saw all these people coming down, and I thought that was a crazy place to be coming down, that they would all end up in the lake," he said.

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said that all of the passengers landed safely and that some had been checked by medical staff, but she did not believe anyone had suffered significant injuries.

Roy Clements, the chief executive of plane operator Skydive Taupo, said the passengers were all overseas tourists who had each been assigned an instructor for a tandem dive at planned heights of 12,000 feet for some and 15,000 feet for others.

The plane was at an altitude of about 2,000 feet when it made "a big bang then stopped", he said. "The pilot told them to get out. He didn't have to tell them twice."

"I was happy to see them all walk back into the hangar," he added.

Skydive Taupo’s website offers skydives from up to 4,500 metres (15,000ft) with up to one minute of freefall. Lake Taupo is popular among holidaymakers and tourists at this time of year, during the southern hemisphere summer.