Thirteen skydivers were able to safely parachute from their plane in New Zealand Wednesday before their ailing aircraft crashed into a lake, authorities said.
There were no serious injuries after the six crew, six passengers and pilot leaped out of the PAL 750XL after it got into trouble at 12:55 p.m. local time, during a Skydive Taupo flight near Lake Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island, police and the company said. "All parachutes including the pilot exited the plane and landed safely," the skydiving company said in a statement.
The six skydivers and crew members had planned to jump out of the aircraft in tandem and they did so, although earlier than had been planned, police said. The plane crashed into the lake, but everyone on their airplane landed on shore.
An artist in the town of Waitahanui described the surreal scene of seeing so many parachutists coming down over the 238-square-mile body of water. "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 told The Associated Press. Another witnesses told The New Zealand Herald the plane appeared to lose power midflight and then people started jumping from the aircraft.
Skydive Taupo offers jumps from 12,000 feet to 15,000 feet, according to its website. New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission said the cause appears to have been an engine problem midflight.
— Phil Helsel
The Associated Press contributed to this report.