A seaplane making its inaugural flight crashed into a highway bridge outside Shanghai on Wednesday, killing five people on board, local authorities and state media said.

The Cessna 208B, operated by Joy Air General Air, was carrying two crew members and eight invited guests, mostly government workers and local journalists, according to local media.

The five survivors -- who included the pilot -- were sent to a hospital for treatment, the Jinshan district government said on its official microblog.

A woman who answered the phone at Joy Air's offices declined to provide any information, saying all company executives were at the crash site. Joy Air, China's largest seaplane operator, did not release an official statement. The Jinshan government said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

The seaplane took off from Jinshan in suburban Shanghai and was bound for the Zhoushan islands, about 47 miles to the south.

The route is designed for tourists and sightseers who want to escape to the islands from sprawling Shanghai. Local journalists were invited to tour the seaplane before its takeoff, and some of them boarded the aircraft for the subsequent flight along with local officials. Wednesday's flight appeared to have been a media tour to help promote the airline's new coastal service.

Speaking from his hospital bed, one of the passengers, local television cameraman Wu Liangliang, told local media that the seaplane circled several times, then made an abrupt left turn before crashing into the bridge.

"It was like something out of a dream," Wu said.

Another survivor, propaganda official Song Wanjun, told local media that he and three other passengers were in the rear cabin and survived by escaping through the rear emergency exit.

"I was the last one to crawl out, but those in the front rows could not," Song told the Xinmin Evening News, a local newspaper. "I was calling on everyone not to panic, but to wait for rescue."