Plane crash in Portugal: Sao Joao beach-goers 'tried to attack pilot' who landed on Lisbon beach, killing girl and man

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Bystanders had to step in to stop attacks on the pilot of a light aircraft that crash-landed onto a Portuguese beach, killing two people.

Basketball player Nicolas dos Santos, who was on the beach with his family at the time, said he helped officers restrain angry beach-goers after the Cessna-152 crash-landed on the sand.

Two people died in the tragedy, a girl aged eight and a man, 50.

The Benfica player told local media: “I got involved to prevent another tragedy from happening. I wanted to help. Assaulting the pilot wasn’t the solution, it was to keep calm and wait for the authorities.”

Sunbathers visiting the crammed Sao Joao beach, near Lisbon, panicked and scattered as the light aircraft skimmed low on Wednesday. As the plane appeared to wobble, they ran for their lives.

An eight-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man were struck and killed as the light plane crashed to a juddering halt in the surf.

Mr dos Santos’s wife and child saw the horror unfold, he said. 

The mood quickly turned ugly as “more and more” people gathered round to question why the plane landed on the beach rather than ditching in the sea.

Another man, claiming to be the father of the eight-year-old girl who was killed, meanwhile interrupted a live TV broadcast to say he “could have punched” the pilot.

The aircraft had been on a training flight with one student and a senior instructor, 56, with “a high level of experience and thousands of hours of flying,” Aerocondor aviation school said in a statement.

The senior pilot made a Mayday call before signalling he had to land because of engine failure, according to TV station SIC.

Local media report that the pair appeared in court on Thursday as officials launched an investigation into the crash.

Lisbon Port police chief Paulo Isabel said: “Any loss of life is to be regretted but given the fact this plane came down on a beach with hundreds of people on it at the height of summer, we could have been looking at many deaths and many injuries.”

The beach is located 30km south of Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon.

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