A seaplane crash landed on the water runway at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport with nine passengers aboard in poor weather conditions just after midday.
The Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT) aircraft was attempting to land in heavy rain on the eastern side of the seaplane lagoon on Hulhule Island at 12.08pm when it crashed into the water.
On board were a total of nine passengers and three crew who were traveling on a 25-minute flight from Lily Beach resort. One of the passengers was Maldivian, two were British and four were Vietnamese.
MAT officials were unable to confirm the nationalities of the rest of the passengers.
Everyone on board was rescued from the aircraft within 10 minutes. There were no serious injuries to any of the passengers or crew but some of the passengers were treated for mild shock.
The MAT Twin Otter seaplane remained afloat and upright but one of the floats was damaged, leaving it leaning to one side with one wing extended into the water.
CEO of GMR, the company which runs Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Andrew Harrison, said: “Fortunately we have a very good emergency response plan.
“We were able to get the passengers rescued within ten minutes and because we knew they would probably be traumatised, we took them to the CIP ‘Koimala’ Executive Lounge for medical treatment for mild shock.
“I personally met with the passengers and told them that I wished their holiday had not ended on a sour note. All of the passengers actually said that it had not ruined their holiday and they commended the actions of the pilot and crew and congratulated them on their response to the situation.”
Work is currently underway to recover the MAT seaplane from the lagoon. The flight schedules of other seaplanes were unaffected by the incident.
Mr Harrison said: “The damage was limited to one of the floats which became detached from the aircraft, so the plane has been left on one side with one wing in the water. Every recovery is different, and as we are running out of daylight, the situation is becoming more challenging.
“Only the Civil Aviation Authority can comment on the exact cause and the nature of the crash. It’s important to note that this type of aircraft is a very durable and safe type of aircraft, and the pilots and crew operating the seaplanes have lots of experience of operating seaplanes.”
The passengers have now departed from the Maldives did not miss their connecting flights due to the incident.
The General Manager of MAT, Fredrick Groth, said: “At around noon today, one of our aircraft had an incident upon landing; one of the wings hit the water.
“We evacuated everybody and made sure there were no injuries. All of the passengers were okay and went on to their onward flights.
“We don’t wish to comment further until after the investigation has been concluded.”
The Maldives Civil Aviation Authority is now investigating the cause of the crash and interviewing witnesses. Deputy Director General, Hussain Jaleel, told Minivan News that he was unable to reveal the cause of the crash yet because the investigation is on-going.
“We cannot determine the cause of the crash yet because the investigation is not yet finished and the interviews have not been finished yet,” he said.
It had been raining heavily since the early hours of the morning and visibility was low. A seaplane pilot working at the terminal, who did not want to be named, described the weather conditions at the time of the crash as “poor” and added that the seaplane terminal had been closed several times earlier today leading up to the accident due to the bad weather.