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3 killed when small plane hits mountain in South Africa

CATO RIDGE, SOUTH AFRICA (BNO NEWS) -- A small private plane crashed late Thursday into a mountain in the southeastern region of South Africa, killing all three people on board the aircraft, emergency officials said. One witness reported seeing smoke coming from the aircraft before the crash.

The accident happened at around 5:30 p.m. local time when a small plane crashed into a mountain in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, not far from the Nagle Dam near the town of Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal province. A number of people in the area had witnessed the aircraft go down and called emergency services.

"ER24 paramedics and fire officials set off on foot to where locals told them that the aircraft had crashed," said Vanessa Jackson, a spokeswoman for ER24. "After about an hour of walking up the mountain through dense bush, they arrived at the crash site where they found the wreckage of a light fixed wing aircraft, extensively damaged and well alight."

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha described the plane as a Beechcraft aircraft, but gave no other details.

"All that they could make out was the charred remains of three people, and due to their extensive burns, it was not possible for them to be made out as adults or children, men or women," Jackson said. Neither spokespersons knew where the aircraft was coming from or where it was flying to.

It was also not immediately known what caused the accident, but a local resident who witnessed the accident said he saw black smoke coming from the aircraft as it went down. "The scene was secured by the police and further investigations will commence tomorrow," Botha said.

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