Investigation underway to determine cause of plane crash which killed two in Co Antrim
TWO people died when a light aircraft crashed into a field near Belfast International Airport on Thursday police said.
Superintendent Emma Bond said: “Emergency services received a report of a crash shortly after 12.30pm this afternoon [Thursday]. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will examine the scene to determine the cause of the crash.
“Cordons have been placed in the area surrounding the aircraft to maintain the integrity of the scene as the investigation continues. I would ask that the cordons are respected by all and directions from officers at the scene are heeded.
“We are not in a position to confirm the identity of the deceased at this time.
“We expect the scene to be held for some time as enquiries are carried out.”
The plane, thought to be a Cessna, came down close to Nutts Corner roundabout and the Loanends Road at around 12.20pm on Thursday.
Eyewitnesses saw the light plane crash in a field and explode.
A Co Antrim local described witnessing the immediate aftermath of a plane crash which claimed the lives of two people.
Ballyhill Lane resident JJ McKee's family home is near to the crash site, and he had been about to embark on his journey back to Belfast when it happened.
His initial thought was the emergency response was for a car crash.
"I thought I heard quite a loud engine but I didn't realise there was any sort of crash," said the 19-year-old Belfast Met student.
"I thought it was one of the commercial airlines going by, you get them once in a while.
"Flights from the international airport fly quite close to the house.
"I was on my way into Belfast when I looked out the window and saw all the cars and people in jackets. I thought it must have been a car accident.
"My thoughts are with the people who died, it's a tragedy."
The emergency services declared a major incident moments after the alarm was raised with police, fire and ambulance services rushed to the scene close to the Ballyhill road. The air ambulance was also sent to the scene.
The Ambulance Service said the major incident was stood down at 12.49pm.
Air Accidents Investigation Branch officers have been sent to the scene.
The flight was not connected to either of the two Belfast airports or an airfield in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, spokesmen confirmed.
Newtownards airport, where the Ulster Flying Club is based, said it would make no comment.
Belfast International Airport said the plane was not operating out of it, or heading toward it to land.
A spokeswoman said: "It crashed in the vicinity of Loanends, two-three miles from the airport."
The Fire Service remains at the scene.
There was a sense of shock across the rural area on Thursday afternoon as news of the incident spread.
SDLP Lagan Valley MLA Pat Catney said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the ongoing incident at Nutts Corner following a crash.
“Thinking of all of those involved at this difficult time.”