A privately-owned Piper 32-type light aircraft plunged into the sea while trying to make an emergency landing about 100 metres from Teluk Dalam beach in Kampung Tersusun, Pulau Pangkor today.
Manjung District Police chief ACP Tengku Mohd Zailan Tengku Ahmad Shah said the aircraft had to make an emergency landing after the pilot realised that the aircraft's tail had broken and stuck on the fence of the short take off and landing (STOL) runway near the beach during the takeoff.
The aircraft took off from the STOL airport at 1.30pm and was heading to Subang airport when the mishap occurred, he said.
The aircraft, which was owned by Ever Success Auto (Thailand) Ltd, was manned by a Singaporean pilot and a local 76-year-old co-pilot, and was carrying two passengers, a 27-year-old Chinese woman and a 51-year-old Singaporean man.
All of them escaped with no major injuries, but were taken to Pulau Pangkor Health Clinic for further examination, Tengku Mohd Zailan told reporters at the scene.
He said the victims, who were on the island for a holiday, were rescued by the local residents who witnessed the incident.
"The remains of the aircraft had also been pulled from the sea using fire engine and upon approval from the Civil Aviation Department," he said.
Meanwhile, eyewitness Azhar Shahadan said he was shocked to see an aircraft in the sea with the propeller blades still spinning.
Azhar, 46, said he and his friend, Roslan Bakar, in his 40s, were riding a motorcycle along the beach when they heard the noise like something big had plunged into the sea.
"The next thing we saw was a plane in the water and a woman trying to get out of the plane and swimming to safety.
"Roslan, who is a good swimmer, quickly dived and helped rescue three other victims who were trapped in the aircraft while I called the ambulance," he said, adding that the incident reminded him of a similar incident which occurred 16 years ago.
Another eyewitness, Osman Bakar, 39, said he was fishing in the area when he heard the loud bang from the sea.
"I kind of knew that the noise was from an aircraft as the airport was located so close to the beach.
"When I saw it, the aircraft was in the sea, with its wheels facing the sky," said Osman, who also joined Roslan in helping the victims.