A small twin engine turboprop crashed into the sea right after takeoff Thursday from the French Polynesian island of Moorea, killing all twenty passengers aboard. According to the High Commission for the territory, it was the worst aviation accident in French Polynesia’s recorded history.
The plane was departing for Tahiti, approximately ten miles from the island of Moorea, when it crashed into the lagoon that abutted the airport directly after takeoff. The exact cause of the crash was indeterminate as yet.
Rescuers attempted for several hours after the accident to retrieve passengers from the lagoon, but upon nightfall rescue efforts were discontinued until Friday morning. When the turboprop crashed, it sunk instantly several thousand feet to the bottom of the lagoon. Assistance was afforded by French navy and surrounding fishermen from the lagoon who had witnessed the airplane crash.
The passenger manifest contained several French Polynesians, 2 Australian tourists, and two officials from the European Union. Many fishermen witnessed the accident and were quite shaken by the catastrophe and subsequent loss of life.
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