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Plane crash kills 9 in New Zealand

By Les Neuhaus, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police release names of those killed
  • Skydivers are among the victims
  • Tourists are from Australia, Ireland, England and Germany
  • Authorities are investigating the crash

(CNN) -- Nine people, including four tourists, died when a plane crashed at a popular New Zealand tourist site Saturday, police said.

The victims included the fixed-wing plane's pilot and four tourists from Australia, Ireland, England and Germany, said Senior Sgt. Allyson Ealam of the Greymouth Police Department.

"We believe it had something to do with skydiving," she said.

The crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. ET) about 200 km (124 miles) southwest of Fox Glacier Airport on New Zealand's South Island, she said.

CNN affiliate Radio Live New Zealand reported that the plane burst into flames as it attempted to take off.

New Zealand police Sunday released the names of those killed.The pilot was 33-year-old Chaminda Senadhira of Queenstown, New Zealand, they said.

The four tourists who perished were Glenn Bourke, 18, of Victoria, Australia; Patrick Byrne, 26, of County Wexford, Ireland; Brad Coker, 24, of Farnborough, England; and Annita Kirsten, 23, of Germany.

The four dive masters killed were from New Zealand: Adam Bennett, 47, of Motueka; Rodney Miller, 55, of Greymouth; Christopher McDonald, 62, of Mapua; and Michael Suter, 32, of New Plymouth, according to New Zealand police.

Fox Glacier, with a population of roughly 375 people, sits within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, on the west coast of New Zealand's south island.

Authorities had secured the crash site and were investigating the crash, New Zealand Police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said.

CNN's Ninette Sosa contributed to this report.

 
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