Four people have died after a plane on a medical mission went off the runway at Río Grande Airport in the south of Argentina, civil defence officials said Friday.
According to initial reports, the accident happened as the aircraft was attempting to take off.
"The dead are four crew members: pilot, co-pilot, nurse and a doctor, but we have not yet identified the people," said Sebastián Aguila, director of Civil Defence for Río Grande.
The plane, a Learjet 35A belonging to the company Fly America with registration number LV-BPA, was attempting to depart after transporting a child who had been admitted to a clinic in the city, located some 2,800 kilometres south of Buenos Aires in Tierra del Fuego Province.
"The plane tried to take off, but did not manage to lift its nose and went off the runway," said Aguila.
The accident occurred at around 2pm local time on an afternoon "with optimal weather conditions, clear skies and no wind," he added.
The aircraft had departed from Buenos Aires and made a stopover in Comodoro Rivadavia in the Patagonian province of Chubut, before carrying on a further 1,100 kilometres to Río Grande. The accident occurred as the aircraft was about to return to the capital.
According to initial reports, "the plane left the child, took on its normal fuel load and when it was about to take off, it went off the runway," Aguila told the A24 television channel.
The plane travelled some 1,000 metres off the runway and caught fire after an explosion, according to reports.
The airport was not damaged, though it is shuttered at present.