Wreckage of Brazilian airliner found in Amazon

Rescue planes found the wreckage of a Brazilian passenger jet on Saturday, a day after it disappeared with 155 people on board over the Amazon jungle, Brazil’s airport authority said.

“The plane was found. The wreckage was found,” Jose Carlos Pereira, president of the airport authority Infraero, told reporters.

The crash site was found in Mato Grosso state in an area of “difficult access”, Brazil’s Globo TV reported.

The brand-new Boeing 737-800 operated by Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol disappeared on Friday afternoon after what could have been a mid-air collision with a smaller plane, local officials and media reports said.

Authorities lost radar contact with the plane during its flight from the principal Amazon city of Manaus to the national capital, Brasilia, the airline said.

Brazil’s Embraer, the world’s fourth-largest aircraft manufacturer, said in a statement one of its Legacy 600 executive jets owned and operated by a client had collided with the Gol flight 1907.

Defence Minister Waldir Pires told Band TV the Embraer Legacy with five passengers made an emergency landing at the Cachimbo air force base, and Embraer said no injuries were reported.

Piers said the Embraer pilot told the authorities “he practically did not see the plane. When he saw something it was but a shadow.
And he felt a shock, which made him lose part of a wing.”

Nevertheless, radars showed the Legacy and the Boeing were flying with an altitude difference of about 300m.

The manager of Jarina farm in the remote town of Peixoto de Azevedo in Mato Grosso told Reuters that employees of a nearby farm saw a big plane on Friday evening flying low and then lost sight of it.

“People saw a large plane making strange manoeuvring and losing altitude,” Ademir Ribeiro said by telephone. “The native forest is thick here, so they lost visual contact because of the trees,” he said, adding that it was impossible to say if that was a Gol plane.

Gol said Flight 1907 was carrying 149 passengers and six crew members.

The plane had been received new from Boeing on September 12 and had only 200 flight hours, the company said.

Brazil’s civil aviation authority said contact with the plane was lost around the town of São Felix do Xingu. The flight left Manaus at 2.36pm local time.

At Brasilia airport, dozens of friends and relatives, many weeping, gathered anxiously to await news.

Gol is a low-cost carrier that has expanded rapidly since its founding in 2001 to become Brazil’s number two airline and offers flights to neighbouring countries.

In the last major airline crash in Brazil, 33 people were killed when a plane belonging to regional carrier Rico Linhas Aereas crashed in the Amazon flying from São Paulo de Olivenca to Manaus on May 14 2004.—Reuters

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