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Small plane crashes, killing six

January 3, 1997

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ A single-propeller plane crashed and exploded into flames shortly after takeoff today, killing all six aboard.

Senior Sgt. Pete Collins said the Cessna 310 crashed in a field after leaving Queenstown, a ski resort on the South Island, 400 miles southwest of Wellington, the capital.

The plane, which had full fuel tanks, had been on a private charter.

The cause of the accident was not known.

Witnesses said the plane banked, hit electricity lines and crashed into farmland.

``The plane didn’t really seem to get much height. It went up and ... was almost struggling to get altitude,″ Mark Timmermans told Television One.

``It dived to its left and a big bang of smoke came flying up as it went through power lines,″ said another witness, Grant Pratley.

The local electricity company said power was temporarily cut to most of Queenstown.

Update hourly