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Jan 7, 2015

04:25:10 GMT--Vehicle Accident - Australia - New Zealand

EDIS Number: VI-20150107-46576-NZL

Date / time: 07/01/2015 04:24:22 [UTC]

Event: Vehicle Accident

Area: Australia

Country: New Zealand

State/County: North Island

Location: [Lake Taupo]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: N/A

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: N/A

Damage level: Moderate


All 13 people aboard a New Zealand skydiving plane that suffered an apparent engine failure Wednesday managed to leap out in parachutes moments before the plane plunged into a lake. Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said there were six passengers, six crew members and a pilot aboard the plane operated by Skydive Taupo. She said all of them landed safely and that some had been checked by medical staff but she did not believe any suffered significant injuries. Each of the crew members dived in tandem with one of the passengers as they abandoned the aircraft after the apparent engine failure, she said. The pilot also leaped to safety in a parachute. Roy Clements, the chief executive of Skydive Taupo, said the plane encountered an engine problem shortly after it had taken off. He said transport authorities were on their way to the crash site to begin an investigation. On its website, the company offers skydives from up to 4,500 metres (15,000ft) which come with up to one minute of freefall: "You shimmy to the door until your feet are dangling over the edge. 3..2...1. out you go!!!!!" the company's site says. 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 a number of people in parachutes coming down above the lake about 1km (0.6 miles) away. He said he didn't see the plane crash. "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. He said the area is popular for skydiving but most people typically leap out of planes a few miles to the north, near the Taupo airport and above dry land. He said the parachutists were about 200m above the water when he saw them. It was unclear whether any of those aboard landed their parachutes in the water or whether they all managed to land on the shore. Police initially said the pilot landed in the water and swam ashore but Perks said more recent information indicated the pilot landed on the shore. Lake Taupo is popular among holidaymakers and tourists at this time of year, during the southern hemisphere summer.

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