TWO men died in a light aircraft crash near Castle Howard on Saturday.

The pilot and a passenger both lost their lives after their plane crashed in a field, just south of Welburn.

Police officers guarded the scene over night while an investigation into the cause continued. No details have been released about the men.

The crash site

Chief inspector Mark Grange, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We had a report at 10.40am that a light aircraft had crashed between Castle Howard and the A64.

"A doctor who came to the scene confirmed that two males had deceased.

"Our priority is now to preserve the scene for the Air Accident Investigation Branch. We expect them to be here at the 6pm.

"Our job is to preserve the evidence for them.

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Chief Inspector Mark Grange

"Police officers will be here throughout the night. We don't imagine that the aircraft will be removed until tomorrow.

"We have also got crime scene investigators here. They took some photos after the area was made safe by the fire service.

"The cause of the crash will be down to the AAIB to determine. We are not part of that."

Chief Insp Grange added: "Events like these are not common. We don't get many light aircraft crashes, but they do happen.

"It's tragic for the families and our sympathies are with them."

The plane landed more than 200m away from the nearest houses and was still largely intact.

Chief Insp Grange said: "It looks like it came straight down.

"It looks like an aircraft, with two wings and a tail fin where it should be. It's in a bad way and it's obviously come down heavily. It's sat on its underside so it has not flipped.

"Whether they tried to land like that I don't know.

"I cannot say where they were going and what they were doing in the air. 

"The fire service attended the scene just to make sure the area is safe because of worries about the amount of fuel - they have declared it safe."

Up to 20 firefighters attended the scene and set up a foam blanket around the aircraft in case it caught fire, a North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.

The spokesman added: "We sent three appliances and one incident support unit with its own appliance."

An air ambulance and a land ambulance were also sent to the crash site, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service spokeswoman said.

A road closure remains in place either side of the scene.

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