Airplane crash in Brazil kills 24

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twenty-four people, among them seven children, were killed on Sunday after their airplane crashed in a river in Brazil. Four people survived the crash, including a 9-year-old boy. The aircraft, which was a twin-engine Embraer turboprop chartered by Manaus Aerotaxis, was carrying 26 passengers and two crew members when it crashed.

The pilots of the plane, which had departed from Coari, had supposedly contacted the air traffic control near their destination of Manaus to announce that they were turning back. The plane, however, then disappeared from radar. The plane made an emergency landing in the river Manacapuru, a branch the Amazon river in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Manaus.

Rescue teams were dispatched immediately, and four passengers from the accident were recovered alive and in reportedly good condition. The rest of the passengers were found inside the plane. The rescue effort was made more difficult by nightfall and heavy rains.

According to passenger reports, one of the plane's engines stopped shortly before the crash. Some survivors also said that they managed to jump out of a door in the back of the aircraft before impact.

The authorities, who are still investigating the cause of the accident, suspect that the plane tried to make an emergency landing at the Panamacapuru airport nearby, but ditched in the river instead after falling short by half a kilometer. Heavy rain was reported when the plane went down and bad weather is hampering the investigation. Operations to recover the wreckage have been suspended until the weather improves.