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Missing Amazon plane made landing; 9 survive

A plane that went missing over the Amazon makes an emergency landing in a remote part of the rain forest, with nine of the 11 people aboard surviving, Brazil's air force says.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A plane that went missing over the Amazon made an emergency river landing in a remote part of the rain forest, and nine of the 11 people aboard survived, Brazil's air force said Friday.

Members of the Matis Indian tribe found the plane and the survivors in a sprawling jungle reservation, the air force said in a statement.

Two people — one civilian and an air force warrant officer — have been missing since the single-prop Cessna Caravan plane went down Thursday, the statement said. A team of divers is looking for them.

In an earlier statement, the air force had said there were signs that at least one passenger died, but a spokeswoman said no bodies had been found by nightfall. She spoke on condition of anonymity as she was not authorized to discuss the matter.

The air force didn't say why the plane was forced to set down on the Itui River, but noted the weather was fine in the area at the time the aircraft disappeared.

Military helicopters picked up the survivors Friday afternoon at a roadless site near several Indian villages close to the Peruvian border. They were being flown to a hospital for evaluation. None had life-threatening injuries and all were expected to be treated and released.

At the time of the crash, the plane was carrying a four-person military crew and seven members of a government medical team who travel by plane and boat across the Amazon vaccinating rain forest dwellers who can't be reached any other way.

The plane took off Thursday morning from the small city of Cruzeiro do Sul in Acre state. It was scheduled to land about two hours later in the city of Tabatinga in Amazonas state, about 300 miles to the northeast.

The aircraft went down in the Vale do Javari reservation, one of Brazil's largest. The area is nearly the size of Portugal and is home to at least 12 tribes, some believed to have never had contact with the outside world.

Indians also helped Brazilian authorities in 2006 when a passenger jet and an executive jet collided above the Amazon, sending the jetliner crashing into the jungle and killing all 154 aboard in the nation's second-biggest aviation disaster.

After authorities spotted the wreckage, Indians from two tribes helped officials reach the plane and helped clear remote stretches of forest.