Four British people are among six killed after a seaplane ditched into a river near Sydney, according to Australian media.
The plane crashed into the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay near the city’s northern suburb of Cowan and reports say it sank immediately.
Witness Myles Baptiste told Australia’s Channel Nine news that he saw the plane flying towards him about 500 metres away when it hit the water.
“It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nose-dived straight into the water,” he said.
Acting Superintendent Michael Gorman of New South Wales police said the aircraft is lying in 43ft (13m) of water.
Police divers are on scene and all six bodies have been recovered – five were passengers and the sixth was the pilot.
The identities of those killed have not yet been confirmed.
Local reports say the single-engine aircraft was owned by Sydney Seaplanes, which runs scenic flights.
It is thought the flight that crashed was a “wine and dine” trip and the passengers had been for a meal at a waterfront restaurant at Cottage Point.
They were believed to have been on their way back to Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour when the plane crashed at about 3.15pm local time.
The company said it was “deeply shocked” by the “tragic accident”. In a statement, it said it was suspending all operations until further notice, and helping with the investigation into the cause of the crash.
Referring to their previously “unblemished safety record”, the statement went on: “The safety of our passengers and staff is our absolute primary and highest priority. Our aircraft are professionally maintained to manufacturer’s specifications and our seaplane pilots are some of the most experienced in the world”.
The UK’s Foreign Office has said it is in contact with authorities in Australia and ready to provide consular assistance.
A spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the plane was a DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane.
Police say the aircraft will be looked at by forensic experts to assess when it can be raised from the seabed.
Three Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators are also travelling to the region to investigate the crash.
“It’s too early in the investigation so we don’t know why the plane crashed,” said Superintendent Michael Gorman.
The crash happened hours before the city’s world famous New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Sydney Seaplanes is a well-known company regularly used by tourists. Celebrities to have taken scenic flights with them include Pippa Middleton, Ed Sheeran, Bill Gates, Jerry Seinfeld and Cuba Gooding Jr.