A group of five thieves who stole a small plane from a club in Chaco Province have died after losing control of the single-engine aircraft and crashing into a field.
The individuals, who have not yet been identified, were reportedly killed instantly in the crash that occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning (January 18).
Local news outlets in Chaco Province said the thieves had broken into the Aeroclub de Villa Angelina, located some 190 kilometres from the provincial capital of Resistencia, and stolen a Cessna 206 plane belonging to a local cattle rancher.
After taking off, the aircraft travelled for around seven kilometres before plummeting to the ground. One of the passengers was ejected from the plane upon impact, dying instantly, while the remaining four were consumed by the flames that followed.
Police were alerted to the incident by local farm workers who were the only witnesses to the crash, according to a report by the Norte news portal. The labourers saw how the plane “lost altitude and fell to the ground, catching fire and called the police,” the website said.
This is the second such theft at an aviation club in Chaco in recent weeks. On December 25 last year another group stole a light aircraft and managed to fly it to Bolivia, a chain of events that investigators attributed to drug-trafficking.
It has not yet been confirmed whether this latest robbery had the same purpose. The plane was valued at around US$1.5 million and featured an “advanced digitalisation and navigation system.” A pistol and a satellite phone was found among the remains of the aircraft, according to police sources.
"If it had fallen in the city, there would’ve been a tragedy," local prosecutor Sergio Rios told reporters.
He said the thieves were “not from here” though he couldn’t confirm if they were foreigners.
“In any case it will be very difficult to learn the identity of each one because the bodies were completely burned," he added.