Wet and windy conditions are hampering the investigation into a plane crash that killed five men in Queensland’s Cape York.
- A tropical low over the Coral Sea is buffeting Lockhart River with heavy weather
- Nearby resident David Glasheen says the weather was “volatile” when the plane went down
- Staff from the Department of Education have been told to cancel all rural and remote travel
Three Queensland Government employees and a pest control expert — aged 49, 57, 63, 62 — along with their 39 year-old pilot, died when the twin-engine Cessna 404 Titan crashed into sand dunes at Lockhart River, about 800 kilometres north of Cairns, on Wednesday morning.
The men, all from Cairns, worked for Q-Build and had been flown into the area to carry out repair work on the local school.
But a tropical low in the Coral Sea has been buffeting the area with strong winds and heavy rain.
Police have confirmed the plane made two attempts to land before crashing on Quintell Beach, about 4 kilometres from the Lockhart River township.
David Glasheen, who lives on Restoration Island, about 20 kilometres north of Lockhart River, said he heard but did not see the plane as it flew overhead.
He said weather conditions were volatile at the time.
“I’m just amazed that they didn’t try another airport because I’ve been on planes where they can’t land and they go back to Coen or Weipa or even go back to Cairns,” Mr Glasheen said.
“The wet season is very tricky because things change so quickly.
“It’s very tragic, they were here to do repairs to the school.”
Extra police have been sent to the area, along with officers from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
“ATSB transport safety investigators with experience in aircraft operations, aircraft maintenance and aeronautical engineering are preparing to deploy to the accident site,” a bureau statement confirmed.
“On site, investigators will examine the wreckage and site surrounds, including with the use of a 3D mapping drone.
“The ATSB will also analyse available recorded data and review weather information.”
Staff from the Department of Education in Far North Queensland have been told to cancel all travel to rural and remote areas because of “extreme weather conditions”.
On Wednesday night, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted: “A tragic loss of life on Cape York today. I offer my deep condolences to the families and friends who are grieving for their loved ones.”