Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Turbulence 'caused Mexico crash'

Members of the Mexican police inspect the scene of the crash (5 November 2008)
Many cars were set alight when the jet crashed in the heart of the capital

Turbulence from a nearby aircraft - not mechanical failure or foul play - is believed to have caused a plane crash in Mexico last week, officials say.

Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino was among 14 people killed when the plane came down in Mexico City.

A cockpit recording showed the pilots realised they had hit turbulence just before the ministry Learjet crashed.

The transport minister said it had been flying too close to a large passenger plane ahead of it on the flight path.

The Learjet came down on 4 November during evening rush-hour in the city's financial district, killing all nine passengers and five people on the ground.

Transport and Communications Minister Luis Tellez told a news conference that a preliminary inquiry had found the jet was nearly one nautical mile too close behind a Boeing 767-300.

Juan Camilo Mourino, file pic

"The crew recognised the presence of an airplane in front. It's possible that they lost control of the aircraft due to its wake of turbulence," Mr Tellez said.

He said it appeared the pilots had not immediately followed instructions to slow down.

Mr Tellez said there were also indications that the pilots may have lacked training as they seemed unfamiliar with the controls of the jet.

He said Mexican, US and British experts examining the wreckage found no sign of sabotage and that the flight was normal until just seconds before it plummeted from the sky.

Juan Camilo Mourino was in charge of security during the government's violent battle with Mexico's powerful drug cartels, and correspondents say his death was a big blow to the authorities.

About 3,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since the start of the year, and the country's kidnapping rates are among the highest in the world.

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