LIMA, Peru – Five tourists and two crew died Friday when their plane crashed on a trip to view Peru’s famous Nazca lines, the transport ministry said.
The Cessna 207 single-engine plane belonging to the Aerosantos tourism company came down shortly after takeoff from the small airport of Maria Reiche in Nazca around noon, it said in a statement.
There were no survivors among the seven onboard. The tourists were two Chileans and three people from The Netherlands, the civil defense office in Nazca said.
Dozens of planes operate from the Maria Reiche airfield, flying tourists – mainly foreigners – over the Nazca lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The fabled lines – one of Peru’s top tourist attractions – were etched into the desert floor some 220 miles (350 kilometers) south of Lima between 500 BC and 500 AD, according to UNESCO, and depict animals, plants, imaginary beings, and geometric figures several kilometers long.
They are believed to have had a ritual astronomical function or to have served as a calendar. Most are only visible from the sky.
The Cessna crashed as it was beginning its aerial tour of the site, falling at the edge of a road, radio station RPP said.
The plane exploded on impact and burst into flames, leaving the bodies charred beyond recognition, said Canal N, which published a video of the smoking remains of the aircraft.
The cause of the crash will be investigated the transport ministry said.
In October 2010, four British tourists and two Peruvian crew members were killed when an AirNasca aircraft crashed over the lines.