An instructor pilot giving a lesson made an emergency landing on a crowded beach in Portugal, killing an 8-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man in a tragic accident that turned hostile toward the pilot.
One witness told the Daily Mail that the plane approached the beach in silence so beachgoers had little time to react to the landing plane. The pilot reportedly told officials he didn't have time to land in the sea.
When it became apparent that two people had been killed, beachgoers chastised the pilot.
A woman identified as Mafalda told a Portuguese newspaper she grabbed her children and fled as the plane came down, according to the Daily Mail.
"Those first moments [after the crash] were very tense," she said. "People wanted to attack the pilot and began to shout at him that he was a killer. Everyone was really disgusted."
The tragedy occurred Wednesday afternoon on Sao Joao beach in Caparica southwest of Lisbon, according to the BBC and Daily Mail.
“I was near the water when I saw the plane," a young witness told Reuters, according to the BBC. "I called my parents, the plane fell on the sand and ran over two people, fatally hurting them and another was injured, I think, but I’m not sure, people were running away.
“The plane is still there, but the ambulances arrived quickly. I think maybe the fuel ran out because I find it weird that it landed on the beach.”
The small aircraft, reportedly a Cessna, carrying two people appeared to be in difficulty and wobbled as it skimmed low over the sunbathers, scattering them and spreading panic on the beach, witnesses said.
The plane appeared to have a partly broken left wing, which hung lower than the right wing, Portuguese television pictures showed.
The dead girl was with her parents, who were unhurt, witnesses told local television channels. The plane passed over the dead man’s legs as he sunbathed on a towel, they said. No others were reportedly hurt.
The first images from the beach in Portugal where a plane making an emergency landing has killed two people pic.twitter.com/BQYSHZ3Eog
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 2, 2017
The Sun reported that Police chief Paulo Isabel confirmed that the two men on the plane had been arrested and were being questioned. The 56-year-old pilot was being described as "very experienced" with hundreds of hours of flight time.
Isabel indicated that the tragedy could have been far worse, considering the crowds.
"Any loss of life is to be regretted, but given the fact this plane came down on a beach with hundreds of people on it at the height of summer, we could have been looking at many deaths and many injuries," Isabel said, according to the Sun.
"What happened today in terms of two people dying in the circumstances can be considered a real miracle."
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