• Kyodo

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The bodies of four people were recovered Sunday from a small plane that crashed in the Northern Alps near Kurobe Dam the previous day in the town of Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, authorities said.

The four were apparently on a training flight from Toyama Airport to Matsumoto Airport in neighboring Nagano Prefecture when their single-engine Cessna 172P went down in heavy fog at around 3 p.m. The transport ministry said the plane left at 2:23 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Matsumoto about an hour later.

The deceased were identified as pilot Takao Kinoshita, 57, Eiji Oguchi, 48, Kazuki Higuchi, 22, and Katsuki Kasai, 21.

Search parties were launched to find the crash after the police received an emergency phone call Saturday from one of the passengers saying two people were conscious and two unconscious. But thick fog prevented the rescuers from locating the plane, and the caller made no further contact.

On Sunday, the plane’s wreckage was found at an altitude of 2,300 meters in several meters of snow. The bodies were taken to a hospital in the city of Toyama by helicopter. Temperatures often fall below zero in the Northern Alps.

The Northern Alps straddle Nagano, Gifu and Toyama prefectures. Tateyama is popular with hikers and climbers and is home to one of the nation’s highest peaks, 3,015-meter Mount Tateyama, and Kurobe Dam, a popular tourist destination.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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