Emergency Plane Landing on Portugal Beach Ends in Tragedy

Authorities are questioning the pilot of a single-engine Cessna that struck and killed two people.

An eight-year-old girl and 56-year-old man are dead after an emergency landing on São João da Caparica beach in Portugal. According to the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias, the rented aircraft that appears to be a Cessna 152, was being used for a training flight between Cascais and Évora, when the pilot notified the tower of a malfunction. Pictures of the aircraft indicate that part of the left wing was broken.

Beachgoers told media outlets the plane was flying low over the beach, causing some people on the sand to panic and run for the water. When the Cessna touched down, it ran over two people, killing them both. Initial reports suggest that no one else was injured.

The pilot, who was reported to possess “high experience and thousands of hours of flying time,” according to the newspaper, suffered no injuries, and was taken into custody by maritime police after the landing, as tensions were high. Witnesses claimed the police had to stop people from assaulting the pilot and his student.

No word yet on why an experienced pilot would set a light aircraft down on a crowded beach when a water landing nearby appears to have been an option.