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Saturday, 19 January, 2002, 14:22 GMT
New Zealand plane crash kills six
Crashed plane. Photo: AP/Southland Times
There were no survivors from the crash
Six people have died after a light aircraft hit a mountain in New Zealand.

Five tourists and a pilot were on board when the plane crashed in the Fiordland Sounds, on the South Island.

Two of the tourists were British holidaymakers in their late 20s or early 30s - a married couple from Scotland, one was a New Zealander, and the other two were Canadian.

The Air Fiordland single-engine Cessna 207 was flying from Te Anau to Milford, when it went down in fine weather shortly after 0930 on Saturday (2030GMT Friday).

All six bodies have been removed from the crash scene - which is being guarded by police - and an investigation is likely to begin within 24 hours.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told BBC News Online the two Britons were a Scottish couple from the village of Shandwick, near Tain in the north of Scotland, but she refused to name them.

The man's family in Singapore and the woman's relatives in New Zealand had been informed of their deaths.

A post mortem examination would be carried out on Monday as New Zealand authorities continued to investigate the reasons for the crash, she added.

Wreckage was found on the Gertrude Saddle, a grassy clearing high in the mountains, 11km (seven miles) from Milford Sound.

The plane had hit the hillside at 1,400 metres (4,500 feet), about 60 metres (200 feet) below the summit of the mountain.

"I have no idea what could have gone wrong," said Air Fiordland chief executive Russell Baker.

"It was a clear day with beautiful skies."

The Air Fiordland single-engine Cessna 207 went down in fine weather

He paid tribute to the plane's 25-year-old pilot, Andrew Robins.

"Andrew was an experienced pilot and highly skilled and I can't even think what could have happened," said Mr Baker.

According to a Radio New Zealand reporter, eyewitnesses said that the plane was flying unevenly shortly before the crash.

Police began a search after the plane after the plane failed to arrive at Milford and was reported overdue.

The BBC's Tony Morris
"A sightseeing trip that went horribly wrong"
The BBC's Paul Anstiss
"A police disaster team has been sent to recover the bodies"
See also:

05 Nov 01 | Scotland
Pilot describes Cessna crash
27 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia plane crash kills four
06 Sep 99 | Scotland
FAA acts over Cessna safety concerns
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