Training aircraft crashes in Lebanon, three feared dead

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A small training aircraft with three people onboard crashed on Thursday in Lebanon's mountainous Keserwan district, north of the capital Beirut, the country's aviation authority said.

Initial reports suggested the pilot and two passengers were killed, aviation sources said.

The Cessna 172 plane belonged to flight training firm Open Sky Aviation and had taken off from Beirut airport at 1.30 p.m. local time before crashing 20 minutes later in the village of Ghosta, the aviation authority said in a statement.

Open Sky could not immediately be reached for comment.

The public works and transport minister had formed a committee to investigate, the authority said.

"It was very foggy in the area ... the airplane hit rocks above a house," Ziad Maalouf, a local resident who was in the area and heard the crash, said. "After hearing the bang we ran out and we saw the remains of people."

(Writing by Maha El Dahan, Editing by Peter Graff, Barbara Lewis and Angus MacSwan)

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