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6 Die in N.Z. Small Plane Crash

April 24, 2000

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ A small plane slammed into a mountain in southern New Zealand on Monday, killing all six people on board, police said.

The single-engine Cessna 206 crashed into the Dunstan Range in the Otago region, 375 miles from the capital of Wellington, said police spokeswoman Jo Galer.

Five people _ three men and two women _ were killed instantly, she said. A 14-year-old boy was alive when rescuers reached the scene but died in a helicopter on the way to the hospital.

All six people were from New Zealand’s North Island. Their names would not be released until relatives had been informed of the crash, Galer said.

The crash happened shortly after takeoff, in low cloud and with light rain falling.

Rescue helicopter pilot Dave Taylor said marks on the ground at the accident site indicated the pilot was trying to turn the plane around and return to the airstrip at the time of the crash.

The Civil Aviation Authority was investigating.

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