Nine people reportedly died on Sunday when a plane carrying them for a parachute jump crashed in Umea, northern Sweden soon after taking off.

A Swedish police spokesman said the GippsAero GA8 Airvan, a single engine plane popular with skydivers crashed on an island on the Ume River shortly after 2.00 pm local time shortly after leaving Umea Airport.

Although the cause of the crash was not immediately clear, Swedish media quoted eye witnesses as saying that some of the parachutists were seen trying to jump off the plane just before it crashed.

“I heard a weird sound which didn’t sound normal. I looked up and saw a plane spinning like a top. At first, I thought it was an acrobatic flight but we quickly realized that something was wrong,” a witness, Peter Larsson told the daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter.

Sweden’s King, Carl XVI Gustaf has  expressed his condolences in a statement published on Facebook. He said: “In view of today’s tragic air crash outside Umea, which took nine people’s lives, I want to convey my condolences.”