Image: Firefighter searches the wreckage
Nicolas Serratto  /  AP
A firefighter searches the wreckage of a state-run Conviasa airline plane after it crashed into a lot used by the state-run Sidor steel foundry near Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, on Monday.
updated 9/14/2010 4:33:15 PM ET 2010-09-14T20:33:15

The death toll in the crash of a Venezuelan state airline plane rose to 17 on Tuesday, a day after the twin-turboprop slammed into a steel mill yard. Thirty-four others on board survived.

The French-built ATR 42 went down about six miles (10 kilometers) from its destination, the airport in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. Workers at the state-run Sidor steel foundry pulled people from the smoking wreckage.

Two of the initial survivors died to due severe injuries, raising the toll to 17 victims, Transportation Minister Francisco Garces told reporters. Others were being treated in hospitals.

It was unclear what caused Monday's crash.

The pilot had contacted the control tower saying there were problems with one of the plane's engines, Bolivar state Gov. Francisco Rangel Gomez told reporters. He called it a miracle that so many had survived.

The pilot and two of the other three crew members were killed, Khan said.

Investigators visited the site and were interviewing survivors, airline officials and witnesses, the attorney general's office said in a statement. The authorities also planned to analyze the plane's cockpit flight data and voice recorders.

President Hugo Chavez declared three days of mourning in the country.

The flight had taken off from Margarita Island, a Caribbean island that is one of Venezuela's top tourist destinations.

The plane belonged to the government's Conviasa, or Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aereos SA, which has been in operation since 2004.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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