Published: Feb 16, 2014 9:31 PM EST

DENVER (AP) - Colorado authorities say three people have died after a small private plane crashed near the airport it was leaving.
San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters says the Beechcraft Bonanza took off from Telluride Regional Airport at 11:20 a.m. Sunday on its way to Cortez, a city in southwest Colorado about 75 miles away. It was found crashed into a cliff band about a mile west of the airport at 5:17 p.m.
Air traffic control in the Telluride and Denver airports lost contact with the plane, prompting a search by the sheriff's office at 12:40 p.m.
Masters says the last communication with the pilot was from the runway during takeoff.
The sheriff says recovery efforts will start Monday. No identities have been released.
Information from: The Denver Post,

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