Three evangelical missionaries have died after their plane burst into flames after crashing in a field.
The plane reportedly fell from the sky a few minutes after take-off this week. An inferno prevented any rescue of those on board, an official said.
Grim photos of the wreckage show the plane still on fire and reduced to charred ashes by the blaze.
Officers eventually put out the flames so the victims’ bodies could be retrieved.
Local media said the three had just taken off from San Francisco, where they had been doing charitable work at a hospital, and were flying to Guatemala City before the horror crash in Guatemala, South America.
The dead were named as pilot James DeHart, 64, Bonnie DeHart, 64, and 66-year-old Helen Shawn Coon, who were all from the United States.
Married couple James and Bonnie reportedly belonged to an evangelical church called the Ministerio Nueva Generacion (New Generation Ministry).
The church paid tribute to them, writing in a social media post: “Rest in Peace, American missionary couple James DeHart and Bonnie DeHart, who died this morning in a plane crash in San Francisco, Peten.
“Apparently they took off on a runway in said municipality, where they have a hospital, and were heading to the capital city of Guatemala.
“They were part of the non-denominational Organizacion Cristiana Evangelica (Evangelical Christian Organisation), which provides spiritual and physical help to people in need around the world.
“For many years the missionaries have helped to meet the needs of many people who have been victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, diseases, and famine with the purpose of sharing the love of God, through his son, Jesus Christ.”
The trio’s plane plummeted from the sky shortly after taking off from the municipality of San Francisco in the Peten Department in the north of the country, on February 13.
Peten governor Luis Burgos said the fireball prevented officers from the National Civil Police from rescuing anyone on board.
A social media account called Amor y Pasion por las Almas (Love and Passion for Souls) wrote: “They left their land to come here to Guatemala and be missionaries.
“But today we received the sad news that they had an accident in their own plane and perished and now they are resting for that glorious day where they will rise again first.”
Missionaries aften travel through dangerous parts of the world for their work.
An Italian-born Catholic priest lost his foot after being injured in a land mine explosion in the Central African Republic (CAR).
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Father Norberto Pozzi, a 71-year-old member of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers, was inured after the car he was in drove over a mine on February 10.
He was on his way to Bocaranga, a city northwest of CAR’s capital, Bangui.
Pozzi was the only passenger who was seriously injured.
According to a report from Aid to the Church in Need International, Pozzi “has already undergone several emergency surgical operations.”
It added “In the most recent one, on Monday [Feb. 13], doctors were even forced to amputate his left foot.”