American family of 5 among 12 killed in Costa Rica plane crash, reports say

A family of five Americans vacationing in Costa Rica was among the victims of a New Year’s Eve plane crash that killed all 12 people on board, investigators and local media have revealed.

The small plane carrying 10 American tourists and two local crew members crashed and burst into flames in a wooded area in in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica, the government reported Sunday.

Five of the victims were identified as Americans Bruce, Irene, Matthew, William and Zachary Steinberg, Diario Las Americas reported. Media reports said the family was from Scarsdale, N.Y.

Other victims were identified by Costa Rica Hoy as Thibault Astruc, Amanda Geissler, Charles Palmer, Leslie Weiss, Sherry Wuu and pilots Emma Ramos and Juan Manuel Retana.

The Central American nation’s Public Safety Ministry posted photographs and video of the crash site showing burning wreckage. All that was left of the plane was a charred, smoldering mass of fiery debris.

The plane had taken off from a local runway and was heading to the Juan Santamaria International Airport.

The Costa Rica Star reported that the Nature Air aircraft had problems shortly after takeoff, crashed in the mountains and immediately caught fire, according to witnesses.

Witnesses said the plane burst into flames after crashing.  (Costa Rican Public Safety Ministry)

Rescue teams could not arrive at the scene quickly because it was in a remote area. Officers in the area confirmed that nobody survived the crash.

Retana, one of the pilots, was a cousin of Costa Rica’s former President Laura Chinchilla, Diario Las Americas added.

Nature Air did not respond to phone and email messages.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.