Six die after seaplane crashes into Sydney river

Pilot and five passengers were on sightseeing flight ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations

A seaplane has crashed into a Sydney river, killing six people on a 'wine and dine' sightseeing flight ahead of the city's harbour-centred New Year's Eve celebrations. Video: Reuters

 

Six people have died after a seaplane crashed into a Sydney river on Sunday during a sightseeing flight ahead of the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Police said the seaplane was returning the party of five people from a waterside restaurant in Sydney’s north to the Sydney Seaplanes headquarters in Rose Bay in the city’s east when it crashed into the water, immediately sinking. The pilot was the sixth victim.

Local reports said four Britons were among the dead.

Sydney New South Wales Police Force and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) are investigating the cause.

The ATSB said the single-engine plane operated by Sydney Seaplanes is reported to have “sunk rapidly” after hitting the water.

“At around 3pm this afternoon, a DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane, VH-NOO, operated by Sydney Seaplanes was flying in the vicinity of Jerusalem Bay (near Cottage Point),” the bureau said.

“It is understood that there was one pilot and five passengers on the aircraft on a return flight to Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour.

“The sequence of events leading up to the accident are not yet understood, however following the impact with the water, the aircraft is reported to have sunk rapidly.”

Sydney 9News reported the group had flown to a restaurant at Cottage Point and was returning to Rose Bay in the city’s eastern suburbs.

A witness told the broadcaster he saw the plane flying towards him about 500 metres away when it hit the water. “It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nosedived straight into the water,” he said.

Sydney Seaplanes is a major tourism operator in the city. Several visiting celebrities have flown on the company’s sightseeing planes, including tech mogul Bill Gates, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and actor Cuba Gooding jnr.

Sydney Seaplanes has been operating since 1938, originally flying from Australia to Britain, a journey that required 30 refuelling stops along what became famous as the “Kangaroo” route.–Reuters