Seven dead after planes carrying dozens of parachutists collide in mid-air

The wreckage near the village of Cerveny Kamen
The wreckage near the village of Cerveny Kamen

Two planes carrying dozens of parachutists have collided in mid-air over western Slovakia, killing seven people, officials said.

Thirty-one others on board survived, some by jumping out with their parachutes, according to government officials.

The crash took place near the village of Cerveny Kamen, said Zuzana Farkasova, a spokeswoman for the Slovak firefighters.

Rescue workers used helicopters to reach the crash site in the White Carpathians mountain range that forms the border with the Czech Republic.

Peter Bubla, spokesman for the Health Ministry, said 38 people were on board the two planes and 31 survived. Five people needed medical treatment but none were taken to hospital, he said.

Juraj Denes, an official with the Slovak Air and Naval Investigations Bureau, said the two Let L-410 transport planes collided at an altitude of 5,000ft.

He said the passengers on board were parachutists and some from one plane survived because they managed to jump out before the collision.

The aviation agency told the TA3 news channel that the two crew members from each plane and three parachutists were killed.

TA3 reported the parachutists were training for this weekend's air show in nearby Slavnica.

"All of a sudden, I heard a big blow," one witness told TASR, the Slovak news agency. "Then it roared. I thought some pieces were falling, but it could be the parachutists."

Health minister Viliam Cislak and interior minister Robert Kalinak visited the crash site, where wreckage from the planes smouldered in the dense mountain forest.