A plane carrying parachutists for a skydiving trip crashed in southern Belgium today, killing all 11 people aboard, officials say. Minutes after the aircraft took off from a small airfield near the city of Namur, witnesses saw part of a wing break off, sending the plane into a spiraling nosedive and crash in a field close to Fernelmont town, says its mayor, Jean-Claude Nihoul. The skydivers and their instructors "were not able to jump out," says Nihoul. Everyone aboard was killed and no one was hurt on the ground, he says, adding that three parachutes were found near the crash site.
No information was immediately available about what caused the accident. Nicolas Hormans of the Paraclub Namur, whose skydivers were among the victims, told RTL network that the plane was probably about 2 miles high when it suddenly went down. He says the nosedive would have thrown everyone aboard around with such force that they would not have been able to jump out and parachute to safety. Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo quickly issued a statement confirming the crash and saying his thoughts are with the families of the victims. King Phillipe is expected the visit the scene later today.