Five die in plane inferno

Fire destroyed the Cessna.
Fire destroyed the Cessna.

Five people are dead after a light plane carrying a group of skydivers crashed and burst into flame at an airfield north of Brisbane.

Family members of those aboard watched in horror as the Cessna 206 disintegrated in a fireball shortly after taking off from the Caboolture Airfield about 11.30am local time yesterday.

The names of the deceased have not yet been released, nor has that of the skydiving company involved.

It's understood two skydiving companies operate from Caboolture Airfield, which has been shut down by police.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman said investigators would examine the wreckage, interview witnesses and study the weather to find out what went wrong.

Airport safety officer Bryan Carpenter said he saw the crash, adding that the plane loaded with high-octane fuel was destroyed by flames within a minute of impact.

He said the plane veered to the left after take-off, before plunging to the ground and bursting into flames.

It took firefighters 10 minutes to douse the inferno, with another witness saying the fire was out of control when he arrived on the scene.

"It was hard getting close. You can't put that type of fire out with hand-held extinguishers," said Mark Thompson from the Caboolture Warplane Museum.

He and Carpenter said it was the worst crash they'd seen at the airport.

- AAP

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