Tourists and locals worked in vain to try to revive a New Zealand woman tossed to her death by the jet blast from a plane at a Caribbean beach.

The 57-year-old woman lay prone on the beach at St Maarten as witnesses performed CPR. She was comforted by others.

Several people were apparently holding on to the airport fence to ride the jet blasts of planes landing and taking off at Princess Juliana International Airport - a popular but dangerous tourist pastime.

St Maarten tourism director Rolando Brison told the Herald he had spoken to the woman's family.

The woman was apparently thrown onto concrete after losing her grip on the fence. Photo / Getty
The woman was apparently thrown onto concrete after losing her grip on the fence. Photo / Getty

"Yes, the family did confirm that [she was a New Zealander]," he said. "And we're so sad to hear that."

Brison passed on his condolences to the family for their loss when he met them shortly after the accident.

"I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognised that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret the risk they took turned out in the worst possible way.

"At this time I only wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones while we continue to investigate what transpired just hours ago."

He did not want to comment further on the accident, but said he would be reviewing security videotapes tomorrow to establish just what happened.

He confirmed the woman had been standing near a fence, next to the airport, when the accident happened.

He was unable to say who the woman had been travelling with, but said there were "three grieving at the hospital".

"I didn't want to ask them too many questions at this time, just wanted them to know we are here for them."


A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed they were following up "reports that a New Zealand citizen has passed away in St Maarten".

The area is a well-known tourist attraction, as approaching aircraft fly low over the nearby beach before coming down on the runway.

The woman was with her family and was holding on to a fence at the end of the runway when a Boeing 737 departed for Trinidad.

The jet's blast blew her and others backwards, causing her to fall and hit her head on concrete pavement.

Signs at the airport warn of the dangers of standing too close to the fence.

A police report said the accident happened about 6pm on Wednesday, local time at Beacon Hill Rd on Maho Beach.

Paramedics reportedly rushed to her aid but she died shortly after.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark said jet blast was "incredibly dangerous", particularly if someone was standing behind a large aircraft.

That particular runway was "very restrictive".

Clark said it was 2300m long - an "average" length runway - and planes would fly directly over the heads of beachgoers.

There's less than 50m from the end of the runway to the water. It's a normal runway but it's a very tight runway. The planes come right over that beach, virtually, to touch down."

He said thrill seekers liked to stand by the end of the runway so the jet blast could throw them into the water.

"People know the dangers. It would pick you up like a piece of paper."

He said there was more danger standing behind the blast from a taking-off plane than a landing one.