Small Plane Crash in Arizona's Superstition Mountains; Crews Finds Body in Debris

Searchers comb rugged scene in Arizona's Superstition Mountains.

November 23, 2011, 9:15 PM

Nov. 23, 2011— -- The body of a child has been found after a small plane crashed in Arizona's Superstition Mountains amid a fireball captured on video.

Elias Johnson, a spokesman for the Pinal County sheriff, told ABC News that deputies have found the body of one child between the ages of 5 and 9. Johnson said that he did not know if it is the body of a boy or girl.

Officials continue to comb the burning, rugged scene in the dark with no immediate indication of survivors.

The crash is believed to have involved a Rockwell AC69 twin-engine plane that had just departed from Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz., according to the FAA's Allen Kenitzer.

However, the identity of the plane had not been confirmed, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told reporters late Wednesday evening as the plane's dual debris fields continued to burn.

"We have numerous conflicting reports at this time," Babeu said. "The best we can ascertain at this point, it's a dual-engine aircraft."

Babeu cited reports that the Rockwell AC69 believed involved may have carried three adults and three children but could not confirm the reports independently.

Sheriff Babeu added that searchers had not ruled out the possibility of finding survivors among the six passengers.

The remains of the plane's fuselage were wedged vertically in a crevice-type formation that was not easily accessible, he said.

Officials now believe the plane crashed before 5 p.m. local time, Babeu said. Earlier reports placed the time of the crash east of Phoenix later in the evening.

About 10 people were searching the scene after they were flown in two at a time by helicopter, Babeu said.

"These are jagged peaks, almost like a cliff-type of ragged terrain," he said.

Local officials earlier said crews were having difficulty reaching the crash scene on foot because of the ruggedness of the terrain.

Witnesses said they saw the plane crash, causing an eruption of flames.

"What we saw was a small plane," said Mark Klein, who lives at the base of the Superstition Mountains, according to ABC News Radio. "It only had the red and green lights on the wings on, and it just ran into the mountain. I looked, like fireworks and then a big explosion."

A video posted on YouTube purported to capture the plane crash. It showed lights moving in the darkness and then a flash in the distance. A local resident told ABC News he took the video from his house in Gold Canyon, Ariz., about seven miles away from the crash site.

Dark video transmitted from the scene after the crash appeared to show fires burning in the mountain terrain.

The Federal Aviation Administration initially said it had no reports of a plane crash in the area, suggesting early on that the incident did not involve a large commercial plane. In addition, passenger flights at major area airports all were safe and accounted for, officials told ABC News shortly after the crash.

ABC News' Alicia Tejada, Lisa Stark and Matt Hosford contributed to this report.

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