Costa Rica plane crash leaves 10 foreigners dead, government says

12 killed in fiery plane crash in Costa Rica

A plane crashed in Costa Rica on Sunday killing at least 12 people, majority foreign tourists, the country's security ministry said.

The plane crashed just moments after takeoff from Punta Islita Airport, according to officials and witnesses.

Shocking pictures showing the burning wreckage of the plane at the crash site have been released by Costa Rican authorities.

Ten Americans died when the aircraft came down in a mountainous area near the coastal beach town of Punta Islita, as well as two Costa Rican pilots.

The State Department declined to identify the people on board, "out of respect for their families".

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Enio Cubillo, head of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, announced during a news conference that the Nature Air charter flight took off from Punta Islita and was flying towards the capital of San Jose when it crashed in northwest Costa Rica around 12:30 p.m., the news wire reported. The spokesperson would not confirm the nationalities of those on board.

Authorities said they were focusing on recovering the victims' bodies and would begin an investigation into the cause of the crash first thing Monday.

Cubillo also reportedly described the pilot, Juan Manuel Retana, as an experienced professional. They said within minutes after takeoff the plane took a nose dive and crashed.

"It is a private plane with 10 foreign passengers and two local crew members", a separate security ministry statement said.

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