Armed men stole Cessna turboprop from airport before fatal crash in Belize

Cessna 208 Caravan
Martin Hibberd /

A Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop aircraft was stolen from an airport in Belize by armed men before the plane crashed, killing the two occupants onboard.

According to local news, the Maya Island Air-owned aircraft was stolen from Placencia Airport (PLJ), which is located near the coast in Eastern Belize.

It’s claimed that the airport was broken into at around 4am local time on October 16, 2023, and that a security guard was tied up after he was confronted by gunmen.

Shortly after the plane was seized, two people are said to have taken off from the airport before crashing the aircraft nearby.

It is understood that the aircraft may have hit a lamp post before the collision occurred.

When emergency services reached the crashed Cessna, the aircraft had already been engulfed in flames, resulting in the deaths of the pilot and the other occupant.

Nigel Carter, director of Belize Department of Civil Aviation, said: “It wasn’t during operational hours, it wasn’t an actual civil aviation flight or a commercial flight and as such, we yield to the police. We have certain agreements with the police so that in the instance of situations where it falls outside of normal operations, we support the police in the investigation activities.”

Carter added that the agency strongly believes that the aircraft belongs to Maya Island Air, but without further investigation that cannot be confirmed.

Hilberto Romero, regional commander of Belize Police, said: “Investigation revealed that a security guard who was working at the airstrip was approached by four male persons armed with firearms who tied him up, and thereafter he heard the sounds of an aircraft started, and then thereafter he heard a loud bang and an explosion.”

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