VISALIA, Calif.  — At least four people are dead after a plane crashed near an airport in central California on Saturday, authorities said.

After receiving an emergency call at 6:30 pm about a small aircraft that was reported to be down close to the Visalia airport, California, Emergency personnel responded. Detectives and deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department were first on the scene and remained there through Sunday until federal flight officials arrived.

The plane left Visalia Municipal Airport at 6:37 p.m., Sgt. Jesse Cox said. Around four minutes elapsed between takeoff and the first 911 call. Flight tracking apps indicate that the pilot attempted to return the aircraft shortly after takeoff. 

Due to dense fog, it took the first responders some effort to find the wreckage. The wreckage was photographed in front of an apple orchard near water reclamation facilities.

“It was dark. Cox explained that at the time it was even foggier. “We went around the area until we finally found it (the ruinage).

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Deputies said ambulances and firefighters were at the scene shortly after the crash. The victims weren’t transported by the ambulances.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB arrived Sunday.

According to flight records, a plane bearing the tail number N7933M took off from Visalia Airport at 6:37 PM. The 1966 Beech plane is registered to David Chelini out of Sacramento, according to a publicly searchable FAA database.

Detectives have not identified any victims.

Transportation safety officials will continue their investigation into the incident, which may take up to weeks.

Source: USAToday.com

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