Ten Americans flying from a vacation hotspot on Costa Rica’s tropical Pacific coast died on Sunday after the small plane they had just boarded crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off, officials in the country said.
El Gobierno lamenta accidente aéreo y ofrece colaboración a familiares de víctimas pic.twitter.com/hIdobAzlhh
— Luis Guillermo Solís (@luisguillermosr) December 31, 2017
A list of the passengers given by local media showed five shared the same last name, suggesting they were related.
“The government of Costa Rica profoundly regrets the deaths of 10 US passengers and two Costa Rican pilots in the air accident,” which occurred in the country’s northwestern Guanacaste region, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis said in a statement posted to social media.
A US State Department official said: “We confirm the deaths of multiple US citizens in an airplane crash in Costa Rica,” adding that assistance was being provided to the affected Americans.
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Security posted several images of the wreckage on its official Facebook page, showing the plane engulfed in flames in a wooded area, with smoke billowing from charred rubble.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, which occurred early Sunday afternoon in Nandayure, a region in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province.
A private plane carrying 10 Americans crashed in Costa Rica, killing everyone on board. At least 5 victims came from one family in Scarsdale, New York: https://t.co/NzfisvO5zL pic.twitter.com/kOO3rbLhuJ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 1, 2018
Authorities said they were focusing on recovering the victims’ bodies and would begin an investigation into the cause of the crash first thing Monday.
The plane took off from the Punta Islita Airport at 12:10 p.m. Sunday, bound for Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose. Officials received reports of the crash around 12:20 p.m., 10 minutes after takeoff, CNN affiliate Teletica reported, citing civil aviation authorities.