(Updates casualty count, adds details)


Three people died and three others were seriously injured when their small plane crashed and exploded Tuesday just after taking off from the Brazilian city of Manaus, authorities said.

The accident occurred about 6:20 a.m. (1020 GMT) at the international airport at Manaus, the major city in Brazil's Amazon region.

The Beechcraft Baron 58 was scheduled to fly between the capital of the state of Amazonas and Apui, some 453 kilometers (about 281 miles) away.

The aircraft was owned by Apui Taxi Aereo and was able to take off but just seconds later it lost power for unknown reasons, plunged to earth and exploded.

The impact and/or powerful blast, which completely destroyed the plane, instantly killed three of the six occupants but the other three survived, albeit with serious injuries.

The injured were taken to 28 de Julio Hospital in Manaus, where their condition is considered to be very delicate.

The Manaus airport was closed to takeoffs and landings after a huge cloud of white smoke covered a large part of the runway, but normal operations resumed shortly thereafter. EFE