Press release from Tropic Air
At approximately 5:30pm on March 9th, a Cessna Caravan operated by Tropic Air made an emergency landing in the sea shortly after take off from the Belize Municipal Airstrip. The captain and all 13 passengers were taken to the hospital. There were no serious injuries. Several expert witnesses report a dramatic shift in wind direction and wind speed as the aircraft was departing. Tropic Air and the Belize Civil Aviation Department are investigating.
News Reports from Belize City Channel 7 News.
Tropic Air Plane Plummets into Sea
A Tropic Air plane plunged into the sea a few seconds after take-off. At 5:35 this evening, the Cessna Caravan with 13 passengers was leaving to San Pedro. A few seconds after takeoff it lost power and simply fell into the sea. No one was seriously injured, but the passengers did receive cuts and scratches. 7NEWS spoke exclusively to one of the survivors as he was being treated and he gave us his first hand account of what happened.
Plane Accident Survivor,
"Well everything looked well on the takeoff but at the last minute it seems that it couldn't take elevation and it kept sinking until it hit the water. So all the takeoff procedures seemed fine to me until the last minute. I am not sure what went wrong."
How high did you (the plane) get in the air before it fell?
"Very little; I would say about 10 feet or maybe more."
And once it hit the water do you recall what happened next?
"Well some of the windows broke so the water started to come in fast and everybody was trying to get to the front, to the cockpit, to get air."
Did you realize what was happening?
"We were out there swimming and when we looked the plane was just coming down from the airstrip. The only thing we saw was when it landed in the water and it flipped over."
So you were in the water as a part of rescue efforts?
"Yeah we were in the water trying to help people."
"If I could add to that, there were 2 boats coming by at the time where the plane was so we didn't want to go too far. We just decided to hold back and the boats brought back the people and nobody was killed."
"Actually I don't think it was an engine failure but just knowing, having worked along the airstrip before, maybe the wind just shifted and affected everything."
Did you all actually evacuate any passengers?
"Yes when they got on land but not from the water."
What sort of injuries did they have?
"Facial injuries and it was blood more than anything else. We counted 13 (passengers) along with the pilot."
Tropic Air refused to release the name of the pilot. Civil Aviation officials were on the scene. The evening flight often carries Tropic Staffers and commuters back to San Pedro. We'll have more on it in tomorrow night's newscast.