Police Superintendent Tom Armitt addressed the media in Mount Isa this morning following the fatal plane crash which claimed three lives in the north west on Saturday afternoon.
Superintendent Armitt said workers at the Elouise Copper Mine near Cloncurry reported a plane crash and plume of smoke at 2.30pm on Saturday.
"As we were responding, we were advised that QAS and mine employees had attended the scene and confirmed that the plane had crashed," he said.
"We have confirmed that three persons were on board and the plane was flying from Toowoomba to Mount Isa as part of the ongoing efforts to combat bushfires in the area."
Police are guarding the scene, and will remain while Forensic Crash Unit staff work at the scene.
Superintendent Armitt said members of the Disaster Victim Identification team will arrive in the region tomorrow (Monday), as will the ATSB.
"The plane was completely destroyed by fire, it's a very small scene - the wreckage of the plane is confined to a relatively small area," he said.
"We have received excellent assistance from the primary producer farmer on site."
Superintendent Armitt said the site was "difficult" to get to.
"It's rough country, but we have received excellent support from the farm owner to enable that to occur," he said.
Original story: Three people have died following a light plane crash in north west Queensland on Saturday afternoon.
Around 2.30pm, emergency services were contacted by a member of the public alerting them to the crash near Eloise copper mine site, about 40 kilometres north west of McKinlay.
The twin engine aircraft was redeploying from Toowoomba to Mount Isa when the incident occurred.
Queensland Police Service confirmed in a statement that the Rescue 400 helicopter located the wreckage from the air while ground crews made their way to the site.
"Police officers arrived on scene around 5pm on Saturday, where three people on board were located and confirmed deceased," a QPS statement read.
"Police understand the light plane was contracted by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to undertake fire mapping.
"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified of the crash and will conduct a transport safety investigation."
Police said the Forensic Crash Unit will investigate the crash of behalf of the State Coroner.
The aircraft was believed to be a Gulfstream Aerospace Jetprop Commander aircraft, which was registered by Victorian-based company, Agair Logistics.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services confirmed the aircraft was contracted by the service to support the state's bushfire response.
In a statement, QFES acknowledged the "tragic loss of three people supporting our bushfire response"
"Our hearts are heavy following the fatal plane crash this afternoon in north west Queensland this afternoon," the QFES statement read.
"During natural disasters in Queensland, we respond as a family. That family includes those contracted to support our aerial operations. Side by side we have been fighting these bushfires as one and their loss is felt by all.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with their family, friends and those who worked alongside them, including our Air Operations personnel."
QFES stated the aircraft was engaged by QFES to conduct line scans, and travelling from Toowoomba to Mt Isa when it crashed near Cloncurry.
"The cause of the crash is currently unknown and QFES will assist the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) with its investigation," the statement read.
An ATSB spokesperson confirmed the bureau had commenced a transport safety investigation into the fatal crash.
"A team of transport safety investigators from the ATSB's Brisbane office with experience in aircraft operations and maintenance are preparing to deploy to the accident site," the ATSB spokesperson said.
"Over the coming days, investigators will conduct a range of evidence-gathering activities on site including site mapping, wreckage examination, and recovery of any aircraft components for further examination at the ATSB's technical facilities in Canberra.
"Investigators will also seek to interview any witnesses and involved parties, and collect relevant recorded information including flight tracking data, as well as pilot and aircraft maintenance records, and weather information.
"The ATSB anticipates publishing a preliminary report, which will detail factual information established during the investigation's initial evidence collection phase, in approximately 6-8 weeks."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her deepest sympathies were with family, friends and colleagues of those who have lost their lives.
"I am terribly saddened by what has happened," Premier Palaszczuk said.
"The crew on board this aircraft have been doing everything they could to protect Queenslanders.
"I send my heartfelt condolences to the many people who have been impacted by this shocking incident."
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the tragedy would hit the aerial firefighting teams hard.
"For weeks now the teams in the air supporting the firefighting efforts have been working together to keep Queenslanders safe," Minister Ryan said.
"My heartfelt sympathies go to everyone who is hurting right now, the families, the friends, and the colleagues of the crew who have lost their lives."
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