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Fifty-seven survive plane crash in Peru

At least 41 people were killed but 57 survived when a Peruvian jetliner with 100 people on board crashed in a storm just seconds from landing in Peru’s Amazon basin, officials said on Wednesday.

General Ariosto Obregon, the police chief in Pucallpa, confirmed that 41 bodies were taken to the city’s two morgues, but he said it will be ”difficult” to identify the bodies because they were badly mutilated in Tuesday’s crash.

Meanwhile, hospital director Esperanza Gomez noted that local medical centres treated 57 people after the crash.

Two others were missing.

There were 92 passengers and eight crew members aboard Tans Peru flight 204 from Lima. The Boeing 737-200 crashed during a storm near the Amazonian rainforest city of Pucallpa, 840km north-east of Lima.

The aircraft was less than 5km from the airport when it crashed near a road at 3.06pm local time on Tuesday, a control-tower official said.

He said a violent storm with fierce winds had broken out as the plane prepared for landing.

A witness said the plane crashed in a swampy jungle and broke in two.

Tans Peru airline spokesperson Jorge Belevan said that among the 16 foreigners on the flight, five Americans belonging to a single family and two Italians survived. He had no information on the others.

Flight 204 listed 11 Americans, two Italians, an Australian, a Spaniard and a Colombian. All of the other passengers and crew members were Peruvian.

”It’s a miracle. My whole family is all right,” Vilma Vivas told a local radio station in Lima. Her husband, three daughters, brother and sister-in-law, all Peruvian-born United States citizens, came out of the crash unscathed.

A radio reporter at the crash site said he saw several dead bodies, including children and babies.

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo said all necessary assistance is being rushed to survivors and rescue workers, adding that an investigation of the crash has already begun.

”I am following minute by minute the unfolding of this tragic accident,” Toledo said.

Nursing a burned hand, survivor William Zea told a local radio station: ”The plane had problems and we dropped.”

His wife also survived, he said.

Yuri Salas said that after feeling ”a strong blow”, he closed his eyes and crawled out of the aircraft ”thanking God for giving me this second chance”.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, the crash was the sixth for Tans since 1992. In the most recent accident on January 9 2003, 46 people were killed when a Tans Fokker 28-1000 came down in northern Peru.

The crash, the fifth of an airliner worldwide this month, came a week after a chartered Colombian jetliner crashed in Venezuela, killing all 160 people on board.

A Cypriot Boeing 737 crashed August 14 near Athens, killing all 121 people on board; a Tunisian-chartered ATR-42 plunged into the sea off the coast of Sicily on August 6, killing 16 people; and an Air France Airbus A340 crashed on landing in Toronto on August 2, but all 309 passengers and crew survived. — Sapa-AFP

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