updated 12/8/2008 7:23:06 PM ET 2008-12-09T00:23:06

A government Learjet plunged into a lake in central Mexico, killing two pilots in the second deadly crash in a month involving a federally owned plane, officials said Monday.

The Learjet 23 lost contact with the control tower shortly before crashing into Atlangatepec lake Sunday night, said Tlaxcala state government spokesman Domingo Fernandez. Rescuers recovered the body of the pilot and were trying to extract the copilot's body from the wreckage Monday, state officials said.

Federal investigators were trying to determine the cause.

Sunday night's crash came just over a month after Mexican Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino and 14 other people were killed when a Learjet 45 plowed into a Mexico City neighborhood.

Fernandez said the Learjet 23 was owned by a federal agency that manages government property but was being used by the Tlaxcala government when it crashed.

Tlaxcala Gov. Hector Israel Ortiz sometimes traveled in the plane but the purpose of Sunday's flight was unclear, Fernandez said. The pilots had been making a short trip between two airports east of Mexico City.

The state government had been using the plane since 2006, according to the federal agency that owns it.

Mexican investigators blamed last month's Learjet crash on the turbulence from a larger plane flying ahead.

The investigation found that the pilots were slow to follow the control tower's instructions to reduce speed and appeared to be nearly one nautical mile too close behind a Boeing 767-300 on the same flight path to Mexico City's international airport.

Officials also said the pilots appeared to be unfamiliar with the Learjet 45, although one had 15 years flying experience and the other had 37 years. One of the pilots had renewed his license through "irregular" procedures, according to the Transportation Department.

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