Four Britons reported dead in seaplane crash in Australia

Emergency workers carry to shore what is believed to be a body and debris from a seaplane that crashed into the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. The plane crashed into a river killing all six people on board, officials said. (Perry Duffin/AAP Image via AP)
Emergency workers carry to shore what is believed to be a body and debris from a seaplane that crashed into the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. The plane crashed into a river killing all six people on board, officials said. (Perry Duffin/AAP Image via AP)
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Four Britons are feared to be among six people killed when a seaplane crashed into a river near Sydney in Australia.

A pilot and five passengers were on board the aircraft when it came down off Jerusalem Bay near Cowan about 4:10am GMT yesterday.

Divers have recovered six bodies from the scene and an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the crash.

Local reports said four Britons were among the dead, but the Foreign Office has been unable to confirm more details.

The single-engine plane, operated by tour company Sydney Seaplanes, sank ­“rapidly” after hitting Hawkesbury River, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.

Sydney Seaplanes, which has flown passengers including singer Ed Sheeran and Pippa Middleton, said it was “deeply shocked” by the tragic accident.

The ATSB 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.” Australia’s 9News reported the group had flown to a restaurant at Cottage Point, which is north of Sydney, and was returning to Rose Bay in the city’s eastern suburbs.

Myles Baptiste told the broadcaster he saw the plane flying towards him about 500m 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.

Aaron Shaw, managing director of Sydney Seaplanes, said in a statement: “All at Sydney Seaplanes are deeply shocked by this incident and the resulting loss of life.

“We wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the passengers and pilot who were tragically killed.

“We do not yet know the cause of the accident.”

Mr Shaw added: “Sydney Seaplanes has been operating since 2005, have undertaken thousands of flights in that period and have had an unblemished safety record until now.

“The safety of our passengers and staff is our absolute primary and highest priority. Our aircraft are professionally maintained to manufacturer’s specifications and our seaplane pilots are some of the most experienced in the world.”

The company has suspended all operations until further notice.