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Mechanical difficulties Four injured after small plane crash lands on beach in Co Wexford

Had the pilot not successfully landed the plane on the beach at Carne Strand, just two metres from the water line, and the plane had instead gone down into the sea, the outcome could have proved tragic.

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Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

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Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

TRIBUTES have been paid to the incredible skill of a pilot who managed to crash-land a twin engined light aircraft on a Wexford beach after apparently encountering mechanical difficulties over the Irish Sea.

Rescue officials admitted that, had the pilot not successfully landed the plane on the beach at Carne Strand, just two metres from the water line, and the plane had instead gone down into the sea, the outcome could have proved tragic.

Incredibly, the pilot had to decide on a crash landing in just seconds when he was at a height of just 80 metres (250 feet) as the light aircraft suffered what is believed to have been a major engine failure while doing a low-level survey flypast.

The light aircraft containing four people crash-landed on the strand south of Rosslare after it got into difficulty off Carnsore Point shortly after 5pm on Thursday evening.

It came to a halt on the beach, just inshore of Lady's Island, less than two metres from the sea with the tide partly out.

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Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Initial indications are that all four passengers were successfully able to get out of the aircraft themselves.

A major response operation was immediately launched including all emergency services.

It is understood the alarm was raised by a person out walking who realised the aircraft was in difficulty.

The aircraft is believed to have included the pilot and three passengers.

Those on board were two men, aged in their 30s and 50s, and two women in their 20s and 30s.

None are believed to be from the Wexford area.

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Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

A number of those on board were removed to Wexford General Hospital and University Hospital Waterford by both Health Service Executive (HSE) ambulances and the Waterford and Dublin-based Coast Guard helicopters.

The Waterford-based helicopter was under the command of Coast Guard SAR pilot Barry O'Connor.

The injuries involved are understood to include bruises, a possible concussion and a suspected fracture.

However, one Wexford-based rescue official said none of the injuries involved are life threatening.

The rescue was supported by Gardaí, Wexford Coast Guard units, RNLI and HSE paramedics.

The aircraft involved is described as a twin-engined light plane.

Initial indications are that the plane may have encountered sudden mechanical difficulties while flying off the Wexford coast.

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Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

Light aircraft crash lands on beach in Co Wexford. Photo credit: James Cook

The pilot realised he would not be able to reach Waterford Airport or even an emergency landing site on a field just inshore.

One emergency services source said that the pilot showed incredible skill in managing to crash the plane on the strand and avoid having to ditch in the sea.

They said that, had the plane crash-landed in the sea, it would have been a vastly more challenging rescue operation with a very uncertain outcome.

It came to rest with its nose buried in the sand and less than two metres from the water line.

Weather conditions are understood to have been good at the time with light winds and excellent visibility.

Locals paid tribute to the emergency services who were at the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised.

As is routine in such cases, an investigation team from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) travelled to the scene in Wexford.

A report on the incident will now be prepared.

Members of the public have been urged to stay away from the area where the plane crash landed.

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