US & Canada

Arizona plane crash: Three children and three men dead

Scene of the crash in the Superstition Mountains
Image caption The jagged mountain landscape hampered rescue efforts and recovery of the debris

Three children and three men have been confirmed dead after a small plane crashed into the Superstition Mountains in the US state of Arizona.

Rescue workers scoured the scene east of the city of Phoenix after flames were seen on Wednesday evening, but the local sheriff now says no-one survived.

Debris is strewn over hundreds of yards of difficult, steep terrain, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said.

Three children, their father and two pilots were on board, he said.

Witnesses reported a fireball and explosion as it smashed into the nearly mile-high rugged peaks.

Rescue crews found flaming debris covering the crash site.

"No-one could have survived that crash," Mr Babeu said in a news conference on Thursday.

The sheriff confirmed the victims as Russell Hardy, 31, and Joseph Hardwick, 22, both pilots.

Shawn Perry, 39, also a pilot, was on board with his three children: Morgan Perry, aged nine, Logan Perry, eight, and Luke Perry, six.

They lived with their mother in Gold Canyon, Arizona, Mr Babeu said. He said he had personally notified her of the crash.

"This is their entire family - it's terrible," Mr Babeu said. "Our hearts go out to the mom and the [families] of all the crash victims.

"We have had so many people that are working this day, and we just want to support them and embrace them and try to bring closure to this tragedy."

The twin-engine aircraft - owned and operated by a company run by Mr Perry - had just flown from the city of Safford to the city of Mesa to pick up the three children for Thanksgiving, he confirmed.

They were making the return trip to celebrate Thanksgiving when the plane crashed travelling at about 200mph (320km/h), he added.