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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 22:35 GMT
Colombia minister's body found after crash
Armed FARC rebel
FARC operates in the area where the plane went down
The body of a popular Colombian Government minister has been found almost a week after his plane crashed in the Andes mountains.

The bodies are spread over the area and the aircraft is completely destroyed

Aviation Direction
Juan Carlos Velez
The remains of Juan Luis Londono and the four people travelling with him were located near the town of Cajamarca, 140 kilometres (85 miles) west of the capital Bogota.

"The bodies are spread over the area and the aircraft is completely destroyed," Aviation Director Juan Carlos Velez said, according to the Reuters news agency.

No cause has been announced for the accident.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says Londono's was the friendliest face in the hardline government of President Alvaro Uribe but that he was also one of the most able ministers.

He presided over the merger of two ministries, those of health and labour.

Disappeared

On 6 February, he was flying across the country to attend a series of meetings but whilst crossing over the Andes the small Piper aircraft he was travelling in disappeared off radar screens over the central province of Tolima.

Juan Luis Londono
Londono had fought against corruption

It took rescue services five days to find a trace of the plane and the search was not helped by the fact that Marxist guerrillas in the area opened fire on helicopters looking for Londono.

Sources within the Colombian civil aviation authority has earlier said that the wreckage of the plane was burnt up and scattered over a wide area and that nobody could have survived the impact.

The death of Londono, 44, is a blow to the government.

One of the country's top economists, with a doctorate from Harvard, he had worked tirelessly over the last six months to reform departments riddled with corruption and inefficiency.


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10 Feb 03 | Americas
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