Home > Americas > 33 survive Venezuela plane crash

33 survive Venezuela plane crash


09/13 | 20:39 GMT

©AFP / Orlando Gomez

Rescue personnel inspect the wrecked fuselage of the Conviasa Airline plane. A domestic passenger plane crashed Monday in southeastern Venezuela killing at least 14 people, officials said, but 33 of those on board miraculously survived the terrifying ordeal.

©AFP / Orlando Gomez

Rescue personnel inspect the wrecked fuselage of the Conviasa Airline plane

CARACAS (AFP) – A domestic passenger plane crashed Monday in southeastern Venezuela killing at least 14 people, officials said, but 33 of those on board miraculously survived the terrifying ordeal.

The plane carrying 47 passengers and four crew, en route to the resort city of Isla Margarita, burst into flames mid-air and broke almost in two as it came down near a steel works owned by the Sidor group in Bolivar state.

“A total of 33 people are being cared for at different clinics,” Bolivar governor Francisco Rangel Gomez said. “We have 14 bodies that are being identified and we are searching for four people” in the wreckage.

The Conviasa Airlines ATR-42-300 plane went down about six miles (10 kilometers) from Puerto Ordaz. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

©AFP / Orlando Gomez

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear

Officials said the quick response by the emergency services after the pilot warned air traffic control that the flight was in trouble had prevented a higher death toll.

“Unfortunately we do have deaths but… given the condition of the plane, I think that we were lucky,” Transport and Communications Minister Francisco Garces said.

Rescuers arrived at the scene quickly with medical helicopters on hand to transport the wounded to local hospitals that had been placed on alert. A burns unit was also on stand-by to treat those caught in the blazing wreckage.

The plane went down at a site mostly used by Sidor to store scrap industrial material. None of its employees were injured in the crash, but they were among the first at the scene helping rescue passengers, Gomez said.

©AFP / Orlando Gomez

The governor said the pilot appeared to have “lost control” of the plane and had radioed a control tower

The governor said the pilot appeared to have “lost control” of the plane and had radioed a control tower to warn that the flight was having technical difficulties.

A spokesperson for ATR, the aircraft manufacturer, said the firm was investigating the accident.

“We are working in close cooperation with the company (Conviasa) and authorities to understand the causes of the accident. At the moment we do not know what caused it,” a spokesman in Paris told AFP.

ATR aircraft like the one that crashed Monday are made by a European consortium composed of EADS and Alenia.

©AFP / Orlando Gomez

The plane went down at a site mostly used to store scrap industrial material

The firm, based in Toulouse, France, employs some 850 people and is considered a global leader in the manufacture of small turbo-propelled planes with 50-75 seats, with some 52 percent of the market.

It has received over 1,000 orders from 150 companies in 80 countries since its creation, and made around 1.1 billion euros in 2009.

Conviasa is a state-owned airline started in 2004 that flies to destinations as varied as Tehran, Damascus, Buenos Aires and several Caribbean nations.

The last major air accident in Venezuela was in February 2008 and also involved an ATR-42-300, which crashed in the Andes, killing 46.

Three years earlier, 160 people were killed in a Venezuelan crash that was one of the world’s deadliest ever.

The flight was en route to Martinique and the majority of those killed — 152 of the passengers — were from the small Caribbean island. An investigation into the disaster later concluded human error was to blame.

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