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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Plane crashes in Peruvian jungle
Injured passenger in Pucallpa

A passenger plane has crashed in Peru's Amazon jungle, with at least 40 of the 100 people on board known to have died.

The Tans Boeing 737-200 was on an internal flight from the capital, Lima, to the city of Pucallpa when it made an emergency landing during a storm.

At least 50 people are reported to have survived the crash, with many being treated in hospital.

Survivors spoke of strong turbulence moments before the crash and described their escape from the burning wreckage.

"The plane was jumping, stronger, stronger, and the more it came down, the rougher it got," one survivor, Yuri Salas, said on local radio station CPL.

FLIGHT TJ204
92 passengers, eight crew
11 US citizens
Two Italians
One Colombian
One Spaniard

"The pilot said we'd be there in 10 minutes, but the turbulence was strong... We felt a fierce impact, there were flames and fires around us," he said.

Police officer Arioso Obregon described the horror at the crash site. "It's really a Dante-esque scene," he said.

Survivor Yuri Gonzalez told rescuers how he escaped the burning plane.

"The fire was fierce, despite the storm," he said. "Hail was falling and the mud came up to my knees."

Although the cause of the crash is not yet known, a storm blew up just as the plane came in to land, witnesses said.

"It seems it was a matter of the weather. Ten minutes before we were to land in Pucallpa, the plane began to shake a lot," said passenger Tomas Ruiz.

Search suspended

A hundred people - 92 passengers and eight crew - were on board Tans flight 204 when the plane crashed on Tuesday afternoon.

It is thought there were 16 foreigners on board, including 11 Americans.

The Boeing came down in a swamp just 5km (three miles) from Pucallpa airport at 1506 (2006 GMT).

Pucallpa is 490km (305 miles) north-east of Lima.

After a stop in Pucallpa, the plane had been due to travel on to Iquitos in the northern jungle near the Colombian and Brazilian borders, a popular tourist destination.

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo said an investigation into the crash was under way.

The plane was jumping, stronger, stronger, and the more it came down, the rougher it got
Yuri Salas, survivor

"I am following minute by minute the unfolding of this tragic accident," he said.

A Tans spokesman said that "preliminary information" indicated that wind shear caused by violent crosswinds could be to blame.

The region's district attorney Cesar Arroyo said: "Among the survivors are 50 passengers and two crew members."

He said up to 40 bodies had been recovered, and more might still be found.

"We've halted rescue efforts because it's dark, muddy and difficult at the crash site," he added. "We'll finish the rescue tomorrow," he said on Tuesday night.

It is not yet known whether the pilot is among the survivors.

Police said that survivors suffered severe burns and broken limbs.

The crash comes a week after a Colombian plane crashed in Venezuela killing all 160 people on board, most of them French citizens from the Caribbean island of Martinique.

And on 14 August, a Cypriot plane crashed near Athens, killing all 121 passengers.




SEE ALSO:
Air disasters timeline
17 Aug 05 |  Europe
Venezuela air inquiry 'wide open'
22 Aug 05 |  Americas
Pressure problem hit Cyprus jet
22 Aug 05 |  Europe


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