Passenger plane crash kills 22 in Argentina's Patagonia region

All 22 people aboard a passenger plane were killed when it crashed late Wednesday in the remote Patagonia region of southern Argentina.

The small commuter plane, operated by regional airline Sol, was on the last leg of a domestic run when the pilot issued a distress signal at 8:50 p.m. local time, about 45 minutes after takeoff. The plane then went off the radar, airline spokesman David Avellanda told CNN.

The Saab 340 turboprop aircraft was carrying 18 adult passengers, a baby and three crew members on board. The wreckage was found in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro, some 15 miles south of the town of Los Menucos.

"We did not find anyone alive. There were no survivors. The plane is in multiple charred fragments. Everything is burnt and smashed to pieces," hospital director Ismael Ali told local media, AFP reports.

A witness had reported seeing a fireball crash into a field near his home, Ali said.

Relatives had gathered at Neuquen airport to await news. The commuter flight began in Cordoba before heading to Mendoza, and was continuing on from Neuquen to Comodoro Rivadavia, the airine said.

Argentine media reported that the plane may have iced up, the BBC reports. However the airline said that there is so far no indication of what caused the crash.

Sol airlines said that an investigation would be carried out to determine the cause of the crash.

A mayor of nearby town said that the plane had been difficult for rescuers to locate because of the isolated location, lack of cell phone signal and cold weather.

The last major plane crash in Argentina was in 1999, when a LAPA flight headed from Buenos Aires to Cordoba crashed into the side of a hill during takeoff, killing 67 people.