Ten Americans died when the aircraft came down in a mountainous area near the coastal beach town of Punta Islita, as well as two Costa Rican pilots.
Footage showed flaming wreckage strewn across wooden terrain – with a local newspaper reporting five passengers shared the same surname and may have been from the same family.
The Cessna 208 Caravan, a single-propeller aircraft which belonged to Nature Air, has taken off from a nearby airstrip shortly before the crash.
This time of year is particularly busy in Costa Rica’s coastal resort areas, which are especially popular with Americans looking to flee freezing weather conditions at home in search of tropical climates.
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Laura Chinchilla, who was Costa Rica’s president from 2010 to 2014, said on Twitter that one of the crew members who died was her cousin.
The cause of the crash is yet to be established.