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Rabbi Mourns Big-Hearted Family Killed In Costa Rica Plane Crash

The rabbi of a suburban New York temple mourned a family of five that were killed in a tragic plane crash during a paradise vacation to Costa Rica.

Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple identified the family as Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their sons William, Zachary and Matthew.

“This tragedy hits our community very hard,” Blake said on Facebook, saying the family had belonged to the temple since 2001 and were active in Jewish philanthropic organizations.

The Steinbergs, from the wealthy New York City suburb of Scarsdale, was aboard a plane that crashed and exploded minutes after takeoff from a popular beach resort on Sunday, killing all 12 people aboard, a relative and the family’s rabbi said.

Ten U.S. citizens and two Costa Rican pilots were killed when the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft crashed into a mountainous area off the beach town of Punta Islita, the Costa Rican government said. The town is in the province of Guanacaste, about 140 miles west of the capital of San Jose.

Forensic workers recovered badly burned bodies from the crash site on Sunday and took the remains to San Jose on Monday, where family members and friends of the Costa Rican pilots gathered outside the morgue.

Autopsies were to begin on Tuesday, a local police official told reporters. He would not specify when bodies would be returned to relatives.

“Due to the state they are in, a little more time is required to identify them. We have to wait,” the country’s security minister, Gustavo Mata, told Reuters Monday in a brief telephone interview.

Nature Air, the Costa Rican company that operated the flight, identified the five Steinbergs and five other passengers: Thibault Astruc, Amanda Geissler, Charles Palmer, Leslie Weiss and Sherry Wuu.—Reuters

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