Plane crashes in Brazilian Amazon, killing 33

/ Source: The Associated Press

A domestic airliner crashed near the Amazon city of Manaus, killing all 30 passengers and three crew members, a fire department official said Saturday.

The turboprop plane owned by regional airliner Rico Linhas Aereas was traveling from the western Amazon city Sao Paulo de Olivenca to Manaus, the inland capital of the state of Amazonas, when it crashed Friday night, said Manaus Fire Department rescue official Maj. Ernesto Rodrigues.

The plane dropped off the radar at Manaus’ Eduardo Gomes International Airport at about 6:30 p.m. Friday about 10 miles from the runway after it suspended landing procedures to allow another plane carrying sick people on the way to a hospital to land, he said. Manaus is 1,500 miles north of Sao Paulo.

The plane crashed in dense jungle, making it difficult for rescue crews to reach the wreckage, he said. About 30 Manaus Fire Department, Brazilian Air Force and Brazilian Army members were working at the site, he said.

“The plane crashed early Friday evening and rescue crews were called in immediately,” Rodrigues said. “As of this morning, however, it became clear there were no survivors.”

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

“We are using three helicopters to gain access to the locale,” Rodrigues said. “We expect to begin bringing bodies out by early afternoon.”

The Brasilia-120 is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft with a normal passenger capacity of up to 30. It is manufactured by Brazil’s Embraer Corp.

In 2002, another Brasilia-120 aircraft owned by Rico crashed near the city of Rio Branco in the western Amazon, killing 23 people.