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Soccer Team Among 54 Dead in Peru Crash

December 09, 1987|United Press International

LIMA, Peru — A naval jet with 55 people aboard--including Peru's No. 1 soccer team--crashed into the Pacific Ocean, apparently killing everyone but the pilot, authorities said today.

The pilot of the Fokker F-27 jet that crashed Tuesday night was plucked from the ocean today. But authorities said the other 54 people aboard, including the 28 players and coaches from Alianza Lima, one of the most popular and oldest professional soccer teams in Peru, were killed.

The jet crashed in the Pacific six miles northwest of Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport sometime after losing contact with the control tower at 8:15 p.m., a navy statement said.

The plane was bringing the soccer team and other passengers from the jungle city of Pucallpa, 305 miles northeast of Lima, to the capital, authorities said.

No Foreigners on Board

No foreigners were believed to be aboard.

Air traffic controllers said the pilot radioed that he was unsure if the landing gear of the twin-engine jet had lowered as he approached the airport. Controllers said they ordered him to circle and burn off fuel before attempting an emergency landing but then lost radio contact with him.

Rescuers pulled the pilot, navy Lt. Erick Villar, from the ocean 1 1/2 miles off Ventanilla Beach near the airport at 7 a.m. today, airport authorities said. He was taken to a navy hospital.

Five bodies were spotted amid floating aircraft wreckage in the ocean, but they were not immediately recovered.

Villar told rescuers at least two other crew members clung to wreckage from the jet but disappeared after being battered for hours during the night by icy waves, airport sources said.

Fans Crowd Hospital

It was not immediately clear who the other passengers were aboard the aircraft. Military planes regularly offer flights to jungle cities in Peru's interior not serviced regularly by commercial airlines.

Fans from the Alianza Lima soccer team crowded outside the Naval Hospital and around the headquarters of the club.

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