Costa Rica Plane Crash Kills 10 Americans and 2 Local Pilots
A single-engine plane carrying 10 Americans crashed shortly after takeoff in a mountainous region of Costa Rica on Sunday afternoon, killing them and the two Costa Rican pilots on board, the Costa Rican government said.
The authorities in Guanacaste, a popular region on the Pacific coast for tourists, responded to reports shortly after noon of smoke and flames rising from a wooded area near Punta Islita Airport. Emergency responders found the charred wreckage of a Cessna plane operated by the regional airline Nature Air and the burned remains of those who had been on board.
“The government of Costa Rica deeply regrets the death of 10 American passengers and two Costa Rican pilots in the aircraft crash,” Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, the country’s president, said in a Facebook post on Sunday evening.
The State Department said it was aware of the crash and was working with the aviation authorities in Costa Rica. “We express our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy,” a spokeswoman said in an email.
Aviation and security officials in Costa Rica told local news media that the cause of the crash was unknown but that the Nature Air plane encountered inclement weather on Sunday when it first tried to land in Punta Islita to pick up the American passengers. The plane returned to another airport before it eventually landed in Punta Islita around 11 a.m., the country’s civil aviation director told the newspaper El Mundo.
After the pilots picked up the American passengers, the plane took off for San José, the capital, which is about 140 miles east, the authorities said. Photos posted by government officials on Facebook show that the Cessna plane crashed several hundred yards from the end of a runway at Punta Islita Airport.
Laura Chinchilla, the president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014, said on Twitter that her cousin was one of the crew members killed in the crash.
Costa Rica, particularly its pristine beaches and lush mountains on the Pacific coast, is popular with North American and European tourists. More tourists visit Costa Rica from America than any other country. Eco-tourism is also a major draw, and Nature Air bills itself as the first carbon-neutral airline in the world.
In September, an American and another passenger on a Nature Air flight died when a single-engine Cessna crashed in a river in Guanacaste. Another American on the flight was injured.