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(BBC) – Three skydivers have died in Queensland after they apparently collided mid-air, say Australian authorities.
Paramedics and police were called to Mission Beach, a popular skydiving spot about 140km (87 miles) south of Cairns.
Two men in their 30s, and a woman in her 50s, were found dead at the scene, Queensland police said in a statement.
Police said initial investigations found one person may have collided with tandem skydivers, and their parachutes failed to deploy correctly.
Queensland’s ambulance service told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that one skydiver was found in the garden of a residence, and the other two were found close by.
A resident was also quoted as saying the bodies were found about 1.5km north of the usual landing site.
Operating company Skydive Australia told local media that it had suspended its operations at Mission Beach while an investigation took place.
The solo skydiver was a “highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps”, while the other two were a customer and another experienced instructor, it said in a statement.
“The company extends its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the individuals and families involved and the broader skydiving community,” it added.
An unnamed eyewitness told the Cairns Post that he saw one of the skydivers falling. “You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening.”
“I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees, and that was the last I saw,” he said.
“It wasn’t good to watch. I had my heart in my mouth.”
The area’s local mayor, John Kremastos, told the ABC that the incident was “horrible news”, saying: “Three people in one accident is very, very sad.”
Skydiving is a popular tourist activity in the area, with many of the backpackers who travel the Queensland coast stopping by Mission Beach.