An emergency response team on Thursday reached the remote site of a small plane crash in the Puerto Rican rainforest, recovering the remains of a Caribbean pilot and two U.S. tourists who were on board the aircraft.
Several members of the team rappelled to the crash site from a helicopter while the rest were still hiking their way through the dense vegetation.
The cause of the crash was still under investigation, said Karilyn Bonilla, director of Puerto Rico's office of emergency management.
The twin-engine plane slammed into fog-shrouded El Yunque mountain on Wednesday. The rough terrain in the national forest, about 13 miles east of San Juan, and bad weather prevented rescuers from reaching the site immediately after the crash.
The plane, a Rockwell International 690B, took off from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands en route to the Puerto Rican capital.
The couple were identified as Tracy Turner and Ken Clapp, said Jose Daniel Echevarria, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's Department of Emergency Management. Their hometowns were not immediately known.
The pilot was identified as Ken Webster, owner of Websta's Aviation Services Inc. in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Webster, a native of Anguilla, was well-known in the Virgin Islands as a pilot and skilled aircraft mechanic, said Mike Foster, a friend and also owner of an air charter company.
"It's a big loss for St. Croix and the aviation industry," Foster said.
The crash was the third in the El Yunque forest since 2001.
A small plane went down in May 2001, killing its pilot. About a year later, another aircraft crashed, killing the pilot and five Americans from Boulder, Colorado.
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