TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) _ A small plane carrying Mexican state government officials slammed into the side of a canyon and exploded, killing all eight people aboard, police said.

Witness Carlos Guerrero told a local television station, XEWT, that he heard the Cessna 500 Citation sputtering in an attempted to gain altitude just after 1 p.m. Tuesday. But the pilot couldn't pull up in time, and the plane smashed into the mountain, exploding three times, Guerrero said.

Ensenada police said all six passengers worked for the Baja California state government. One of the victims was Leobardo Roa Hellmecke, state director of the National Housing Institute.

Roa Hellmecke and members of his staff were flying from Mexicali to Ensenada, according to police 2nd Lt. Javier Munoz of Maneadero, a town near the crash site.

The two pilots and six passengers lived in Tijuana and Mexicali, Munoz said. The crash occurred at Rancho Packard, a canyon a few miles south of Ensenada, about 62 miles southeast of Tijuana.

Although the cause of the crash is under investigation, officials don't suspect foul play. Munoz said visibility in the area was limited by dense fog Tuesday.