Eleven people were killed Friday night when a skydiving plane crashed near Dillingham Airfield on the northern shore of Oahu in Hawaii.
First responders were called to the airport about 6:30 p.m. and found the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air plane “fully engulfed in flames,” far from the Mokuleia runway, Manuel Neves, chief of the Honolulu Fire Department, told reporters at the scene.
Authorities have not released the names of those killed. Family members were at the airport tower when the plane crashed, Neves told the Star Advertiser. Authorities first said that nine people had perished, but on Saturday afternoon the medical examiner’s office for the city and county of Honolulu confirmed the number had jumped to 11 victims.
“In my 40 years as a firefighter here in Hawaii, this is the most tragic aircraft incident that we had,” Neves told CNN affiliate KHON. “We had some helicopters with the military, but this is a civilian plane that went down and with that many people on board."
It remains unclear if the plane was taking off from the airport or attempting to land, though the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that preliminary information indicates the plane was taking off from the airport. Neves told local media that his department was turning over the investigation to state authorities and awaiting instruction from the FAA.
Two FAA inspectors arrived at the site Friday, the FAA said in a statement. The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday morning that it was launching a “go team” to Oahu to investigate the crash.
“I am closely following the tragic developments out of Dillingham Airfield this evening,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted Friday night. “At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.”
Preliminary reports indicated that at least six of the people on the plane were employees of Oahu Parachute Center and three were customers, Hawaii DOT spokesperson Tim Sakahara told the Star Advertiser. The Oahu Parachute Center website advertises tandem dive trips at sunset.
Dillingham Airfield is a general aviation airport operated by the Hawaii Department of Transportation, according to its website. It hosts one 5,000 foot runway used primarily for small private planes and commercial skydiving and glider operations.
This story has been updated.