10 Aug 2007

French Polynesia stunned by plane crash off Moorea

6:10 pm on 10 August 2007

French Polynesia is in shock over today's plane crash off Mooera.

The Air Moorea Twin Otter carried 19 passengers and a pilot when it crashed into the sea shortly after take-off.

Unconfirmed reports say among those who perished were two Australians.

It's not known what caused the crash which left all 20 people, including five residents of Moorea, dead.

The plane, on a short trip to Tahiti, fell into the sea on a perfect and sunny day.

Investigations are under way into the accident of the Twin Otter which had its last inspection less than a month ago.

The local government has released the names of some of the victims.

They include two officials from the European Commission, Jean Pierre Pierard and Michel Gauche.

The pilot has been named as Michel Santurelle.

The French Home Affairs, Overseas and Communities minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, in a government statement, has expressed the French government's deep sympathy and solidarity to the victims' families.

President Nicolas sarkozy has also expressed his sadness over the accident.

A ceremony to commemorate the victims will be held in Papeete at the weekend.