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Six Americans Killed in Plane Crash

October 15, 2000

ENSENADA, Mexico (AP) _ A small airplane crashed Saturday at a Mexican military base in Baja California state, killing six Americans working with a volunteer doctors group, police and the doctors organization said.

The plane, flown by the U.S. group Flying Doctors, went down about 11 a.m. while trying to land at the Area 3 military air base outside Ensenada, a coastal city about 50 miles south of the border with California, said police official Jesus Luna. No one on the ground was hurt, he said.

Four women and two men, all California residents, were aboard, said Dr. Stephen Los, a dentist and president of the group’s Monterey, Calif., chapter. Names were not immediately released because relatives were still being notified, he said.

``I’m pretty shocked by the whole thing,″ Los said.

Monty Finefrock, a pilot and president of the Los Gatos, Calif., chapter of the group, said the six passengers had been at a seminar focused on building a working relationship with Mexico, where the group provides free medical care.

Police commander Jesus Eduardo Velez said the plane was leaking fuel and caught on fire after rescue workers arrived at the crash site, in a mountainous area less than a half-mile from the airport runway, the government news agency Notimex reported.

Air base commander Sergio Alejandro Escobar told Notimex the plane was en route from San Ignacio, about 400 miles south of Ensenada, and had received authorization to land from the control tower.

Escobar said the crew never reported an emergency, but that initial indications were that the plane had engine problems prior to the crash.

A witness to the accident, Romel Ramirez, who was working at a factory nearby, told Notimex that he saw the airplane do a somersault in the air and then heard the engine cut out.

In May, three Northern California volunteers for a medical assistance group died when their single-engine plane plunged into the Pacific Ocean on a return trip from a weekend mission in Baja California.

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