Belfast Telegraph

Irish man among plane crash victims

An Irish man and a Briton are among nine people who died after a light aircraft crashed and burst into flames in New Zealand, local police have said.

The plane, owned by a skydiving company, crashed shortly after take-off at the end of the runway at Fox Glacier Airport on South Island.

A New Zealand Police spokesman said the plane was carrying a party of skydivers and tourists.

He said: "There were five New Zealanders on board plus a national each from Australia, Ireland, Germany and the UK. The embassies of each overseas victim have been informed and relatives are in the process of being advised."

The dead Irish man was named locally as 26-year-old Patrick Byrne from Gorey, Co Wexford. He had been in New Zealand on a working visa.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it is liaising with his family.

Police said the bodies would remain at the crash site until Sunday.

Eyewitnesses said the plane was almost totally destroyed in the accident.

One local man was quoted in the New Zealand Herald: "It was like a fireball and then there was big puffs of smoke going up... (The plane) was engulfed in flames immediately."

Fox Glacier is a popular tourist spot in New Zealand's Southern Alps, about 90 miles from Christchurch.

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