31/12/2017 08:58 GMT | Updated 01/01/2018 09:23 GMT

Five Brits Dead After Sea Plane Crashes Into River In Sydney

LATEST: Brits Killed In Sydney Seaplane Crash Named As High-Profile CEO And Family

Five Britons including an 11-year-old girl and an Australian pilot have been killed in the Sydney sea plane crash, local police have confirmed.

The New Year’s Eve pleasure flight plunged into the Hawkesbury River at Cowan Creek, around 15 miles north of central Sydney, after 3.15pm on Friday.

One of the victims has been named as 58-year-old Richard Cousins, the chief executive of Compass Group, the world’s largest catering company.

Sky News Australia
The scene at Cowan Creek, north of Sydney, on Sunday as marine officers and police launch a recovery operation
Sky News Australia
The plane was reportedly turning when it appeared to plunge into the water near Cowan Creek, north of Sydney

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said “Officials from the British Consulate are in contact with local authorities in relation to a sea plane accident near Sydney. We stand ready to provide consular assistance.”

Police at the scene said the craft had sunk and was submerged in 13 metres of water. Divers and the city’s marine service are helping in the recovery effort.

The flight was operated by Sydney Seaplanes, a well-known firm which has organised flights for celebrities, according to the Australian Daily Telegraph.

SAEED KHAN via Getty Images
Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews took a Sydney Seaplane flight in May 2017

The firm was used by the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, for a flight on her recent honeymoon.

Police said the sea plane was returning the party of five people from a waterside restaurant in Sydney’s north to the Sydney Seaplanes headquarters in Rose Bay in the city’s east when it crashed.

Acting Superintendent Michael Gorman said: “Information to date is that at approximately 3.10pm, a sea plane was flying west over the Hawkesbury River. For reasons that are not known at this stage, the plane has hit the water and it has subsequently sunk.

“We can confirm the six people on the plane are deceased.”