Two government officials were lucky to have missed the doomed flight that killed 14 people [Reuters]

Fourteen people, including a senior government official and a union leader, have been killed after a small plane crashed in Honduras.

The Central American Airlines (CAA) plane was flying to the Toncontin international airport in the capital Tegucigalpa when it crashed in the town of Las Mesitas on Monday.

All those on board died in the crash, with the plane coming down about 5km short of the airport.

The passenger list included Rodolfo Robelo, the deputy minister of public works, Carlos Chain, a former government minister and Israel Salinas, a union leader.

The government has declared three days of national mourning in honour of those killed.

Three US citizens were also among the passengers, according to Gustavo Castaneda, director of Central American Airways.

Two other government ministers scheduled to be on the plane missed their flight.

"Thanks to fate and to God we did not board, and God has given us a new life," said Cesar Ham, the minister of the National Agrarian Institute.

'Tragic vision'

Tincontin airport is considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world because of its short runway, old navigation equipment and surrounding hills.

The National Service of Civil Aviation said the accident happened a little after 8am EST (1300GMT), minutes after air traffic controllers instructed the pilots to land. There was fog in the area at the time of the crash.

Jorge Deras, mayor of the town of Santa Ana, near Las Mesitas, said he heard an explosion and ran to the crash site. "We found many ... bodies strewn about,'' said Deras. "It's a tragic vision.''

At least 10 planes have crashed in and around the Toncontin airport since October 1989, when a Honduran commercial jet went down, killing 131 people.

It was built on the southern edge of hilly Tegucigalpa in 1948 with a runway less than 1,600m long.

The cause of the crash is being investigated

Source: Agencies