A small plane traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia, crashed near an airport in northern Mississippi, killing the pilot and three passengers.
The pilot of the private plane reported smoke in the cockpit just after takeoff Monday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Beech BE36 crashed one half mile from the runway at Tupelo Regional Airport.
FlightAware.com showed a Beechcraft Bonanza plane, registered to a man in Kerrville, Texas, had flown from there to Tupelo on Sunday. It was scheduled to continue to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Monday.
The pilot and three passengers were killed, Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said.
"There's quite a bit of wreckage. The debris is very broken up,'' Aguirre told reporters. "We did find some bodies on the scene."
The bodies are still on the site, waiting until the FAA releases the scene. Once the scene is released, the bodies will be taken to a crime lab for autopsies, and DNA testing is expected to assist in positive identification for the victims.
The weather was overcast with a light wind at the time the plane took off.
Laurie Carwile, who works in the gift shop at the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, said she heard the crash and later saw smoke.
"We actually thought it was thunder,'' Carwile said. "I was in the gift shop, and this man came beating on the door, telling me to open the door. I thought we were being robbed. He was actually trying to tell me the plane had come down and to call 911.''
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive in Tupelo early Monday evening.