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Nine killed in skydiving plane crash in Sweden

Police investigate the site of a plane crash near Orebro, Sweden, on July 9, 2021. Jeppe Gustafsson/TT

A small plane loaded with veteran skydivers has crashed in Sweden, killing all nine people onboard.

The crash happened on Thursday night outside the city of Orebro, according to local authorities. The aircraft plowed into a field shortly after takeoff and burst into flames just before 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a very severe accident,” regional police said on their website.

“There were no lives to save,” local fire chief Per-Ove Staberyd said.

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Officials say the pilot and all eight passengers were members of a local skydiving club. It was not immediately clear why the aircraft went down, but investigators have said there was a problem with the plane’s takeoff.

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“Something happened in the middle of the runway,” Peter Swaffer, head of department at the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority, told Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper. “The plane didn’t get up very high before it went down to the left of the runway.”

A takeoff-related crash would likely have made it impossible for the skydivers to use their parachutes. The absolute minimum height for a skydiver to safely deploy his or her parachute is 2,000 feet (610 metres), according to the United States Parachute Association, but it’s recommended that veteran skydivers pull the chute at a minimum of 2,500 feet above ground level.

The Dagens Nyheter newspaper identified the plane as a single-engine, propeller-driven De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver.

The crash is being investigated by the Swedish Maritime Association, which oversees air traffic in the country.

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Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven mourned the crash in a statement on Twitter.

“It is with great sadness and sorrow that I have received the tragic information about the plane crash in Orebro,” he wrote. “My thoughts are with the victims, their families and loved ones in this very difficult time.”

Löfven declared a “day of mourning” at a press conference on Friday.

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Nine people were killed in a similar crash involving a skydiving plane in Sweden in 2019. Investigators ultimately ruled that the aircraft had been improperly loaded, causing it to go down shortly after takeoff.

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

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