Six people have died after a sea plane crashed into Jerusalem Bay in the Hawkesbury River, about 30 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD, at about 3.10pm today.

Police divers recovered six bodies – the pilot of the single-engine plane and five passengers – from the wreckage 13 metres underwater. The plane is believed to have been travelling from the Cottage Point Inn Restaurant in the upper north of Sydney to Rose Bay in the east, a journey which would usually take about 20 minutes.

At a press conference at Apple Tree Bay earlier tonight, Acting Superintendent Michael Gorman said:

Information to date is that at approximately 3.10pm, a sea plane was flying west over the Hawkesbury River. For reasons that are not known at this stage, the plane has hit the water and it has subsequently sunk… We can confirm the six people on the plane are deceased.

[The investigation is] about recovering the bodies, seeing if we are able to recover the plane tonight or whether it will stay until tomorrow morning, working with the sea plane company to confirm the identities of those on board and then obviously letting their relatives and next of kin know… Then in the coming days, determine the cause of the crash.

The flight was operated by Sydney Seaplanes, a company who offer scenic flights over Sydney landmarks and waterways – their clientele has included the likes of Pippa Middleton and Ed Sheeran.

Inquiries into the tragic incident by NSW Police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) are ongoing. ATSB encourage witnesses to call 1800 020 616 and register their details, and will release a preliminary report within the next month. The police urge witnesses, particularly those who may have video footage, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Earlier today the ATSB described the crash landing as a “ditching“.

Source: ABC
Image: Twitter / @pdwnews