Multiple fatalities have been reported following the crash which took place on the north-end of Gabriola Island on the south-western coast of Canada yesterday.
Local witnesses reported seeing a blaze and hearing an explosion before watching the plane drop into the sea or wooded area at around 6pm.
Preliminary investigations are being carried out by British Columbia (B.C) Coroners Service, who told Vancouver Sun they were working to ‘determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means the deceased came to their sudden, unexpected deaths.’
Bette Lou Hagen, called police after she saw the crash from the living room of her home just 100 meters away.
She told Vancouver Sun ‘It was terrifying. I heard the roaring of an engine, much louder than a car engine, then a loud crash. Then a minute later an explosion.’
Ms Hagen described how she was unable to see the crash in detail because it was already ablaze when she got outside and was obscured by trees in the area.
The plane is believed to have come down in parts, some of which landed on Decourcy Drive, a quiet street on the north peninsular of Gabriola Island.
Further investigation will be undertaken in partnership with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, who are on site today gathering evidence to help determine what took place.
Two ambulances attended the scene on the Gabriola Island with five more vehicles transported there via ferry from Nanaimo on nearby Vancouver Island.
Gabriola Island Fire services also attended after the plane reportedly caught fire after breaking into pieces – Gabriola Island has around 4,000 residents.
The plane is believed to have been a six-person twin-engine Piper Aero star that had been heading north from the U.S., according to Vancouver Sun.
Resident Paolo Gast took to Facebook to share his concern after hearing a blast, he wrote: ‘Wow 6:02 witnessed a plane do a low manoeuvre, then straight up, then drop and light show into ocean … sunset side of twin beach. 6:08 hearing emergency sirens … Same manoeuvre I saw of Red Bull plane do at Vancouver fireworks.’
Another resident of the peninsular, Stephanie Reisler, wrote: ‘obviously a tragedy for victims.
‘Also traumatizing for residents of the peninsula — some of whom are elderly and are having war flashbacks and war-related PTSD.
‘Maybe check on these neighbours once things have cleared and settled.’