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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 01:51 GMT
No survivors in Ecuador air disaster
Colombian and Ecuadorean Red Cross workers in Cumbal
Rescuers are now searching for the flight recorder
Rescue workers at the site of a crashed Ecuadorean airliner in south-western Colombia say there were no survivors.

Wreckage of the Boeing 727-100 belonging to Ecuador's state-run TAME airline was found spread over a wide area on the 4,700 meter (15,000 feet) Cumbal volcano, just north of the Ecuador-Colombia border.

"Search teams found the wreckage, but there were no survivors," said Colonel Henry Salcedo of the Colombian army.

The jet vanished in dense fog over the Andes on the Ecuador-Colombia border on Monday.

The plane was carrying 83 passengers, including seven children, as well as seven crew and two mechanics.

Rescuers have no idea what caused the tragedy, but they have been searching the crash site for the plane's flight recorder.

The plane took off from Ecuador's capital Quito and was bound for the border town of Tulcan, from where it was scheduled to fly on to the Colombian city of Cali.

Relatives of missing passengers
Relatives hopes have been dashed

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in the Colombian capital Bogota says the crash was a major tragedy for both countries, as more than 40 of the passengers were Colombian.

Adriana Cano said her sister and brother-in-law had been returning from a holiday in Ecuador by plane for fear of attack by the Colombian rebel National Liberation Army.

"They didn't like travelling by plane but by land," she said. "But due to the road blockades by the guerrillas they did it by plane."

A Colombian air force spokeswoman, Major Angela Rodriguez, told the Associated Press that guerrilla attack had been ruled out as a cause of the crash.

There have not been any attacks on aircraft in Colombia's 38-year civil war.

Contact lost

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane after it requested permission to land at Tulcan.

A Colombian farmer, Javier Escruceria, said he heard the plane flying through the clouds, then a loud explosion.

"We felt as though it was flying low, but couldn't see it because the sky was full of clouds," he said.

"It seemed like it had gone down behind the mountain."

Earlier this month, a plane belonging to the Ecuadorean state oil company Petroecuador crashed in Colombia, killing all 26 people on board.

It was six days before search teams could find the wreckage of the twin-engine propeller plane on the side of a hill a few kilometres across the border.

Another TAME Boeing 727 crashed in Colombia in 1998, smashing into a mountain near Bogota and killing all 43 passengers and 10 crew on board.

See also:

24 Nov 01 | World
Air disaster timeline
20 Jul 01 | Media reports
Ecuador hit by Colombia conflict
30 Aug 98 | Americas
Dozens dead in Ecuador crash
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Timeline: Ecuador
01 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ecuador
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