Ten Americans and two crew members died after a plane crashed in Costa Rica on Sunday, officials said.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís said an investigation would begin Monday into what caused the aircraft to go down shortly after 12 p.m (1 p.m. ET) in Guanacaste, a province popular with international tourists.
Guillermo Solís didn’t identify the victims. He said the plane belonged to a Costa Rican airline, Nature Air.
In a brief interview with NBC News, Tamara Jacobson said that her brother, Bruce Steinberg, and four other family members were among the dead. She named them as Irene, Matthew, William and Zachary.
Jacobson said the “amazing” family had recently celebrated the birthdays of three generations of relatives.
“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Jacobson added on Facebook.
Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York, described the family as very involved in local Jewish groups and charities and said that “this tragedy hits the community very hard.”
In a Facebook statement, he added: “I know there will be much more to say in the coming days, and that so many of us want to do everything we can to express our grief and to show support for their bereaved family.”
Laura Chinchilla, a former president of Costa Rica, wrote on Twitter that her cousin, Juan Manuel Retana, was also among the dead.
“You will remain in our beloved heart,” she said.
Bomberos Costa Rica
Dawn Wolf said she was eating lunch with her family near the airport when she saw the plane fly overhead.
The aircraft had a single propeller, she said, adding that such planes are sometimes used to get from small towns to bigger cities for about $50.
“The plane was super low and then all of a sudden [it] veered to the left and crashed into the ground of the mountain sideways, wing first,” she said.
The plane was in the air for less than a minute, according to Wolf.
Wolf heard a boom, then she said she saw an explosion 20 seconds later.
The “plane was broken into two,” she said.
In a statement, the State Department confirmed the deaths of “multiple” Americans but declined to provide additional details.