PEMBROKE, Ga. — Three people died Monday when a single-engine charter plane crashed in dense woods in Georgia.

The Beech A36 aircraft went down in a rural area of Bryan County, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Savannah. The pilot and two passengers died, Bryan County Emergency Services director Freddy Howell told a news conference.

A couple had chartered the plane to fly them from Savannah, near the coast, to Cobb County, just north of Atlanta, Howell said. He said he was unaware of any distress call from the pilot and witnesses who saw the plane flying before the crash reported no signs of trouble.

Emergency responders were dispatched at about 9:30 a.m. Monday to look for a downed aircraft, Howell said. It took nearly two hours of searching on the ground and in the air before a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the plane in thick woods. He said state foresters were cutting a path for investigators and recovery crews to reach the crash site.

“The aircraft is in a very heavily wooded, swampy marsh area,” Howell said. “So it’s going to be an extended operation trying to get those bodies out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending investigators to southeast Georgia to begin probing what caused the crash.

The names of the three people killed were not immediately released.