Three people in Australia have died after a small plane crashed while helping fight fires near Mount Isa, in Queensland’s north-west. According to 9News, the incident took place on Saturday afternoon. An emergency crew was called after the firefighting jet fell in difficult terrain near Mount Isa. “Three people on board were located and confirmed deceased,” a Queensland Police spokesperson said in a statement.
According to 9News, police from Mount Isa and a rescue helicopter were initially sent to the crash site, which cops said was in a difficult terrain. The officers made it to the site in the evening and confirmed the three firefighters onboard the aircraft were dead. The paramedics said that the crash was “unsurvivable”.
Following the incident, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) issued a statement offering their deepest condolences to the families of those onboard. They also confirmed that the aircraft had been contracted to support the Queensland bushfire response.
According to ABC Australia, the small aircraft was redeploying from Toowoomba to Mount Isa to conduct line scans, or infra-red mapping, when it crashed. Cops believe that those onboard were mapping areas of recent bushfire activity in western Queensland and gathering vital terrain data for use during bushfire emergencies.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a statement the state was in shock. “I’m deeply saddened to hear the news that an aerial firefighting crew have lost their lives after their plane went down north-west of McKinlay,” she said, as per the outlet. “The crew onboard this aircraft have been doing everything they could to keep Queenslanders safe. I send my heartfelt condolences to the many people who have been impacted by this shocking incident,” she added.
Separately, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also sent his condolences to the families of those killed. “Terribly sad that three brave souls working to help their fellow Australians have lost their lives in Queensland,” he said on X (formerly Twitter). “A tragic reminder of the dangers those on the front line of bushfires face. Heartfelt condolences to their loved ones and colleagues in this time of grief,” he added.
Now, the Australia Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will launch its own investigation into the crash. “A team of transport safety investigators from the ATSB’s Brisbane office with experience in aircraft operations and maintenance are preparing to deploy to the accident site,” a spokesperson said. Moreover, the Forensic Crash Unit will also investigate the crash on behalf of the coroner.