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Small plane crashes in Chilean capital, killing 11

/ Source: The Associated Press

A small police plane crashed Wednesday onto a sports field in Chile's capital, killing all six people aboard and five on the ground, authorities reported.

The Cessna 210 had been approaching the small Tobalaba airport when it went down at a playing field in Santiago's Penalolen district, where neighbors were taking part in an exercise class sponsored by the municipality, Chile's air force and local officials said.

Authorities first reported that eight people had died in the crash, but police later announced that the bodies of three additional women had been found under the plane's charred fuselage.

Five others were injured on the ground.

"The airplane appeared to lose power, made a sudden U-turn and fell," witness Ernesto Munoz told state television. "There was violent fire when it crashed."

The cause of the accident remained under investigation.

Two police officers and four aviation mechanics students aboard the plane died, police said. Relatives reported that one woman who had been on the ground was hospitalized with severe burns remains in serious condition.

"It was terrible, I saw this woman with a totally burned leg," said witness Alba Rosalie who told state television reporters. "I was totally hysterical."

The small sports field is sandwiched between two larger soccer fields, where the pilot had apparently sought to land, state television reported.

"The pilot did not have enough time for an emergency landing, but still had time to take the plane away from a residential area" nearby, avoiding slamming into surrounding houses, Police Gen. Gorge Rosa said.

Neighbors have often expressed concern over the airport, and Sen. Sledded Lever on Wednesday vowed to ask the government to halt operations there until a study of safety conditions can be conducted.