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11 dead in parachutists plane crash

Eleven people were killed and one was injured when a small plane carrying parachutists crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off in southern Poland, firefighters said.

Experts said it was the worst passenger plane crash in Poland in many years.

Eleven parachutists and a pilot were on board the twin engine aircraft when it took off for a training flight, said Pawel Fratczak, national spokesman for the firefighters.

A few minutes later it crashed and caught fire in an orchard in the village of Topolow. No one was hurt on the ground, he said.

Mr Fratczak said that firefighters called to the site found two people dead, and one injured person was taken to hospital. Later, the firefighters' local spokesman, Pawel Liszaj, said that medical services at the site confirmed there were nine other bodies in the wreckage.

The plane was the property of a private parachuting school based at the small airport of Rudniki.

The cause of the crash is being investigated. Firefighters said that the Piper Navajo aircraft may have been overloaded.

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