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3 killed when small plane crashes in western North Carolina mountains, officials say

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MARION, N.C. (AP) — Three people were killed when a small plane crashed in western North Carolina, officials said Monday.

McDowell County Emergency Management said in a statement that emergency personnel responding to a report of a missing small plane found the downed aircraft near the Rutherford County line. The area is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Asheville. McDowell County officials later confirmed three deaths in the downed aircraft.

Three people were aboard the single-engine Cessna 182 when it crashed in the mountains near Rutherfordton, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the investigation and will provide further updates, according to the FAA, which is also investigating.

The NTSB said in a statement that preliminary information indicates that the plane, which departed Mountain City, Tennessee, and was heading to Rutherford County Airport, crashed Sunday and the wreckage was found Monday.

An NTSB investigator was traveling to the scene to document and examine the wreckage, officials said. The agency is expected to issue a preliminary report within 30 days on the initial phase of its investigation though a final report with a probable cause and any contributing factors is expected to take one to two years.