Image: Crash scene
Paulo Whitaker  /  Reuters
Rescue workers work at the site where a small jet crashed Sunday in Sao Paulo.
updated 11/4/2007 8:40:10 PM ET 2007-11-05T01:40:10

An executive jet crashed in a heavily populated neighborhood of Sao Paulo on Sunday, killing at least eight people and turning homes into a pile of smoky rubble just months after the city was the site of Brazil’s deadliest air disaster.

The plane, a Learjet 35 belonging to a Brazilian air taxi company, slammed into several houses shortly after taking off, said Lucia Ferreira, a spokeswoman for airport authority Infraero.

Killed in the crash were the pilot, the co-pilot and at least six people on the ground, including a child, according to Sao Paulo’s state public safety department and the airport authority.

The plane was not carrying any passengers, according to a statement issued by the jet’s owner, Reali Taxi Aerea.

Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the crash, but Ferreira said there were no immediate indications that it was related to Brazil’s recent air-traffic chaos that reached a crisis point with the July 17 crash of a Tam Linhas Aereas SA jetliner, which slammed into a building in Sao Paulo, killing 199 people.

That crash happened at Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport, widely criticized for having a short runway that makes landing tricky during rainy conditions.

The jet that crashed Sunday afternoon took off from the Campo de Marte airport, used by executive jets and helicopters, and was en route to Rio de Janeiro, Ferreira said.

Witnesses told Brazilian media the Learjet plowed nose first into the blue-collar neighborhood as it apparently tried to return to the airport during cloudy and slightly rainy conditions. One home was destroyed and at least one more was heavily damaged. More than 60 firefighters were still combing through the debris hours later.

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