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Plane hits Australian Ferris wheel

An ultra-light plane has crashed into a Ferris wheel at a rural festival in eastern Australia, trapping four people in the tangled wreckage for hours.

The Cheetah S200 carrying two men did not topple the Ferris wheel when it hit the frame near the top on the first morning of an annual three-day festival at Old Bar, a coastal village 220 miles north of Sydney, New South Wales Rural Fire Service spokesman Ben Shepherd said.

Two children - a nine-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl - were trapped in a carriage at the top of the wheel near the wrecked plane for 90 minutes, a police statement said.

The 53-year-old pilot and his 32-year-old passenger were trapped inside the mangled aircraft more than 30 feet above the ground for almost three hours, police said.

Mr Shepherd said rescuers used a crane to free the four. "Thankfully, everyone was taken down and were able to walk away from it," he said.

Witnesses said the Ferris wheel was full of children minutes before the crash. But because of impending rain, only five had dared to take the final ride, said a festival organiser, who gave his name only as Terry.

Fizal Meah, a witness, said one of the children in a carriage below the area of impact was struck by debris and was left distraught but uninjured.

"Because the rain was stopping and starting, stopping and starting, it was almost empty," Mr Meah said. "A few minutes earlier, it was chockers. We were so, so lucky with the weather."

The plane, owned and piloted by a local man, had just taken off from a nearby air airstrip when it crashed, Mr Meah said.

Local resident Gary Jones said his nine-year-old twin sons were among the last to ride the Ferris wheel before the crash. "It was a hell of a shock," Mr Jones said. Police and air safety investigators were at the scene.

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