Five dead as light plane “explodes in mid-air” after taking off from Tires airport

Five people are confirmed dead following an accident involving a Swiss-registered plane which took off from Tires airport, outside Lisbon, shortly after 11am this morning.

Eyewitnesses said the plane, “owned by private operator Symbios Orthopedic”, exploded in mid air, with wreckage crashing down onto a lorry beside the Lidl outlet, roughly 2000 metres from the airfield.

The dead confirmed so far are the pilot, three passengers and the driver of the lorry.

It is not certain yet whether there are any other casualties, though TV reports have suggested four people on the ground suffered “light injuries”.

According to some reports, the crash led to a house catching fire, as well as other vehicles.

President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already visited the scene (Tires being within the borough of his hometown of Cascais).

A statement put out by the airfield says the plane was on its way to Marseille, in France, and “suffered an accident outside the airport space”.

The airport’s emergency plan was “immediately actioned”, involving firefighters, Civil Protection and INEM medical teams.

The PA-31 Piper Navajo twin-engined plane landed in a densely-populated area, thus fears are that there could be further victims.

For now the area is cordoned off and full of emergency crew, while Tires airport itself remains closed.

Updates to follow.

As to Symbios Orthopaedics, the correct name for the plane’s owning company, this is based in the Swiss Alps, writes Expresso, and is dedicated to the manufacture of specialised orthopaedic implants, particularly substitute hips and knees.

The plane is understood to have arrived in Tires last Friday from Marseille. Today was meant to have been the ‘return trip’.

Identities of the people on board have not yet been revealed, but they are reported as having been one Swiss and three French nationals.

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PHOTO: stills taken from report by SIC television