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20 die when airplane hits hillside on Caribbean island

GUSTAVIA, St. Barts (AP) — A small plane crashed Saturday on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, killing all 19 people on board and one person on the ground, authorities said.

The Air Caraibes plane departed from Prinses Juliana Airport on the island of St. Martin Saturday afternoon and crashed into a house on a hillside near the airport on St. Barthelemy, the formal name of the neighboring French island, said Herve Siffre, a police spokesman.

The plane crashed as it approached the airport's runway on the mountainous island, said Siffre. One man on the ground died when the Twin Otter plane crashed into his house. His wife was hospitalized with serious injuries.

There was one American on the flight, while the other 16 passengers were believed to be French, said Georges Alexandre, local manager for Air Caraibes, which is based on the nearby island of Guadeloupe.

The airline would not release the names of passengers until family members were notified. There were also two crew members on the plane.

The propeller-driven Twin Otters are among the few aircraft that can land on the short runways on several Caribbean islands, including St. Barthelemy and Saba.