Two Jewish families were among twelve people killed in a plane crash in Costa Rica on Sunday that left no survivors.
It claimed the lives of Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons Matthew, William and Zachary. The family were from Scarsdale, New York.
Mitchell and Leslie Weiss from St Petersburg, Florida, were also killed in the accident together with their children Hannah and Ari.
The crash occurred shortly after take-off from the Punta Islita airport in the west of the country.
One other American and the two Costa Rican members of the flight crew were also killed. The pilot, Juan Manuel Retana, was said to be a cousin of Laura Chinchilla, the former Costa Rican president.
Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, Mr Steinberg’s sister, confirmed the deaths of her family members on Facebook, speaking of the extended family’s “utter shock and disbelief” at the tragic loss.
The Steinberg family were members of the Westchester Reform Synagogue in Scarsdale and the community’s Rabbi Jonathan Blake paid tribute to the family on social media, saying that the news had “hit our community very hard.”
The Weiss family were members of the Congregation B’nai Israel in Belleair, Florida.
The congregation’s Rabbi Jacob Lusky told NBC News it was “a tragedy and a devastating loss to their families, for our synagogue family, and for the… [local] community.”
Costa Rican authorities are investigating the cause of the crash, with strong winds being identified as a potential factor.
Michael Soto, deputy director of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation agency, said that “no possibility can be left out for certain.
“We have two aspects: The principle one would be some weather condition, and if there was a mechanical issue.”