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THE WORLD

Wreckage of Peru Plane Found; No Survivors

January 12, 2003|From Associated Press

LIMA, Peru — After two days of rain and fog, search crews Saturday reached the wreckage of a Peruvian airliner that had plowed into a mountain with 46 people aboard, including eight children.

Officials confirmed that there were no survivors and said the recovery effort would be slow.

Pieces of the TANS Airline plane were scattered over an area 1,300 feet wide, about 1,600 feet below the peak of the mountain, said Transportation Minister Javier Reategui.

"The impact has disintegrated the plane," he said. "The passengers as well as the crew members have suffered the same impact."

The 11,550-foot-high mountain -- part of the Andes -- is 10 miles northwest of the town of Chachapoyas in Peru's high jungle, about 400 miles north of Lima.

Search crews arrived at the site hours after a helicopter put them down nearby. They had to maneuver around cliffs and push through knee-deep mud to reach the wreckage, said air force Col. Juan Rodriguez, who is overseeing the operation.

Two flight recorders, which could clarify the cause of the accident, have been recovered, Reategui said.

It was not raining when the plane disappeared Thursday, but low-hanging clouds covered the mountains, meteorologists said.

However, Chachapoyas Mayor Enrique Torres was quoted Saturday by the Lima newspaper El Comercio as saying he had spoken with villagers who reported seeing the plane flying low with one of its engines on fire shortly before hearing an explosion.

Most of those on board were Peruvians. Six were foreigners: a Cuban man, a Spanish woman, two Dutchmen and a Belgian with his Portuguese wife.

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