Tandem Skydivers Die In Crash

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Investigators are concerned that harnesses holding novice skydivers to their jumpmates may have played a role in the death toll resulting from a crash in Australia earlier this week. Five people died when the Cessna 206, with a pilot and three tandem pairs on board, clipped a tree and crashed into a dam on private property near Brisbane. It flipped on impact, trapping most of the occupants under water. According to the Scotsman newspaper, the harnesses would have made it virtually impossible for them to escape. One woman was thrown from the plane and, despite broken bones and lung injuries, walked about 200 yards back toward the airstrip before being picked up by paramedics. The other survivor, an instructor, was found sitting on the tail of the airplane with his dead partner hanging from the harness. Witnesses included another planeload of skydivers waiting their turn. They said the engine on the plane puffed smoke and began sputtering shortly after takeoff. "There was smoke coming from the engine and it was going, blurp, blurp, blurp," said Debbie Comolatti, who was due to go on the next flight. Investigators pulled fuel samples from the tanker used to fill up the plane as police divers pulled bodies from the plane.