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accidents

Tourist killed by jet-engine blast on Caribbean island

A New Zealand woman was killed Wednesday on the island of St. Maarten after a jet-engine blast blew her away from the fence she was hanging onto and into a retaining wall, police said Thursday.

The area where the Princess Juliana International Airport meets Maho Beach is a popular tourist attraction, with people lining up along the fence that separates the airport from the beach to watch jets skim over beachgoers as they land and feel the extreme wind from engines when they prepare to take off. The unidentified 57-year-old woman was at the fence when she was "blown away by the jet blast and was seriously injured," police said. She was rushed to St. Maarten Medical Center, where she died.

Police spokesman Ricardo Henson told The Washington Post there have been minor injuries reported before, but this is the first fatality. There are signs warning people of the dangers of standing behind airplanes as they take off, and St. Maarten tourism director Rolando Bruson told The New Zealand Herald the woman's family "recognized that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret the risk they took turned out in the worst possible way. At this time I only wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones." Catherine Garcia