World Bulletin / News Desk
Strong winds were seen as a factor in the crash of a small plane in Costa Rica that killed all 10 US passengers on board and two local crew members, according to officials and witnesses.
The accident, which occurred Sunday in the country's northwestern Guanacaste region popular with tourists seeking pristine tropical beaches, killed all on board the small Cessna 208 Caravan owned and operated by domestic airline Nature Air.
Costa Rica's civil aviation agency said the pilots had tried to land at Punta Islita, a beachside town in Guanacaste, earlier Sunday to get the passengers but aborted because of "the gusts of wind."
The aircraft was up-to-date with its certifications and had been inspected a month earlier, the agency said.
"There had been a lot of wind, really strong," one resident in the area told AFP on Monday.
She said when she and other locals arrived at the crash site, up a steep hillside, "we couldn't see, absolutely everything was black."
She added: "The front part of the plane was all on fire, and the tail part was the only bit intact."
Police and fire crews arrived within 25 minutes of the crash, which happened shortly after midday (1800 GMT), she said.
Another resident, Efrain Rojas, told the newspaper La Nacion that the plane was "too low" after take-off.
"It did a turn to the left. For us, it looked like some sort of problem, and it was trying to get back to the runway. With the turn it did, it had one wing up vertical, and the other hit the trees," he said.
"When we arrived, it was all in flames.... The plane, when it came down, apparently exploded, caught fire," he said.