Last Updated Dec 31, 2017 11:17 PM EST
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A plane carrying 10 U.S. citizens and two local residents crashed in a wooded area, killing everyone on board Sunday, Costa Rican authorities said Sunday. The Public Safety Ministry posted images and video of the crash site on Facebook showing burning wreckage of the plane in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica.
A statement from the ministry said 10 foreign passengers and two Costa Rican crew members were aboard the plane belonging to Nature Air. It said the plane had taken off nearby. Authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed that multiple U.S. citizens died in the crash. "We express our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. We are in contact with Costa Rican aviation authorities and will continue to monitor the situation," the spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News.
Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said on Twitter that her cousin was one of the victims killed in the crash.
At a news conference, Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, said the Nature Air charter flight took off just after noon Sunday from Punta Islita and was headed for the capital of San Jose when it crashed.
Cubillo said the cause was under investigation.
He identified the pilot as Juan Manuel Retana and described him as very experienced. Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said via Twitter that Retana was her cousin.
The same plane had arrived in Punta Islita on Sunday morning from San Jose and was delayed in landing by strong winds, Cubillo said.
Nature Air did not respond to phone and email messages.