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NZ skydivers bail out over Lake Taupo as plane crashes

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Media captionSix passengers, six crew and their pilot managed to abandon the plane when it got into trouble, as Helen Castles reports.

All 13 people on board a small plane, including the pilot, parachuted to safety before the aircraft crashed into a lake on New Zealand's North Island.

The aircraft was taking them on a tandem skydive excursion over Lake Taupo when it suffered engine problems, said the authorities.

No-one was seriously injured, but the case is being investigated.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, Mike Richards, said it was a miracle no-one was killed.

Taupo Mayor David Trewavas said the had plane lost power about 1,300m off the ground and the pilot called for the passengers to evacuate.

Image copyright NZ Herald
Image caption Skydive Taupo which operated the flight said everyone had evacuted safely

The plane was carrying six crew who jumped with the six passengers strapped to them as planned.

"All the precautions were taken and they evacuated the plane safely. The plane then crashed into the lake at a place called Loafer's Paradise," Mr Trewavas told the New Zealand Herald.

Roy Clements, chief executive of Skydive Taupo which organised the trip, said in a statement: "A skydiving plane encountered an engine problem shortly after take-off.

"All parachutes including the pilot exited the plane and landed safely," the statement added.

One witness told local media he heard a loud bang and then saw skydivers leaving the plane.

"It sounded like an engine blowing up. It would've been no longer than 15 seconds between the bang and when the skydivers started jumping out of the plane," he told the Herald.

"It was pretty amazing that they could get out, it's amazing that they're safe."

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