Thirteen people aboard a New Zealand skydiving plane, which suffered an apparent engine failure, survived after jumping out of the plane in parachutes on Wednesday. The plane reportedly crashed into Lake Taupo in the North Island, after encountering an engine problem shortly after takeoff.
Authorities said that six passengers, six crew members and a pilot were on board the PAL 750XL, NBC News reported. Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said that everyone aboard the plane landed safely on shore and were being checked by medical staff for significant injuries. She reportedly added that each crew member planned to jump off the plane with one passenger. Taupo Mayor David Trewavas reportedly said that the pilot decided to evacuate the plane after the aircraft suffered a power failure at an altitude of about 4,000 feet.
"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," a witness told the New Zealand Herald.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards called the incident miraculous as no one was killed or injured, adding that an investigation is underway, while Trewavas reportedly praised the pilot and others onboard for their handling of the situation.
"There is nothing much you can do about an engine malfunction. Things kicked into gear and everyone was evacuated safely," Trewavas reportedly said, adding: "And it just shows the experience of the operators and how well-equipped they were."