Two dead after plane '˜nose dives' into ground

Eyewitnesses have described the tragic moment a light aircraft crashed into a field in Co Antrim yesterday, killing two people.

Emergency services at the scene , after a light aircraft crash at Nutts Corner, County Antrim.
Emergency services at the scene , after a light aircraft crash at Nutts Corner, County Antrim.

The small plane, thought to be a Cessna, came down close to houses between Nutts Corner and Loanends at about 12.20pm.

Residents said the aircraft circled over houses and tried to land, before crashing in a field and catching fire.

Roy Divers, who lives close to the crash site, told the BBC how he could only watch in horror as the plane “nose dived” towards the ground.

Emergency services at the scene , after a light aircraft crash at Nutts Corner, County Antrim.

Locals rushed to the scene but quickly realised there was nothing they could do.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch said it is “sending a team” to the crash site.

Police confirmed yesterday evening that two people died in the crash and said they were “not in a position to identity the deceased”.

The crash happened close to a wooded area, two or three miles from Belfast International Airport.

Emergency services at the scene , after a light aircraft crash at Nutts Corner, County Antrim.

Paramedics, firefighters, an air ambulance and police attended the crash site, but the major incident was stood down at around 12.50pm.

Recounting the moments leading up to the crash, Mr Divers told the BBC: “The angle of it, it was on its side heading towards the ground.

“You knew it was going to crash. There was no immediate explosion. I phoned the emergency services and couldn’t get through, so I just jumped in the car and drove round.

“You think to yourself maybe I can get there and pull the pilot out, but they were obviously killed on impact.”

The flight was not connected to either of the two Belfast airports, or an airfield in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, spokesmen confirmed.

Newtownards Airport, where the Ulster Flying Club is based, said it would make no comment.

Nearby roads remained closed throughout the day and police said the crash site would be cordoned off for “some time” to maintain “the integrity of the scene” for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

South Antrim DUP MP Paul Girvan expressed his shock and sadness at the news of the crash and said: “My thoughts, prayers and deep condolences go out the family of those involved in the crash.

“I am very much shocked that this has happened considering the very high safety standards that are involved in air travel.”

Alliance MLA David Ford also extended his condolences to the victims’ loved ones and added: “I also wish to thank those emergency services who attended the scene, as well as members of the public who were there and did what they could to help those who have now tragically passed away.”