Investigators probe Brazil plane crash that killed 14

Investigators probe Brazil plane crash that killed 14
Investigators probe Brazil plane crash that killed 14

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - View of the site where an Embraer EMB-110 aircraft of the Manaus Aerotaxi airline crashed, causing the deaths of 14 people during the plane's landing the previous day at Barcelos airport, about 400 km from Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil, taken on September 17, 2023. — AFP pic

MANAUS, Sept 18 — Investigators travelled Sunday to a remote town in the Brazilian Amazon to probe a plane crash that killed 14 people and left no survivors, as authorities brought the bodies to be identified.

The small turboprop plane was flying a group of Brazilian sport fishermen into the northern town of Barcelos Saturday when it crashed in stormy weather, apparently after starting its descent too late and skidding off the end of the runway, said officials in Amazonas state.

A team of five air force investigators flew from state capital Manaus to Barcelos to begin analysing the crash, which killed all 12 passengers and two crew.

Another flight carried empty coffins to the town so the bodies could be brought back to be identified in Manaus, 400 kilometers (250 miles) away. That plane also carried a second set of teams to transport the remains and assist in the investigation, officials said.

“The teams comprise 10 people from the department of forensic investigation, emergency response and police,” the Amazonas state government said in a statement.

Military personnel could be seen at the Manaus airport using a forklift to load the dark wood coffins onto the air force plane early Sunday, an AFP photographer said.

Officials said the bodies were expected to arrive in Manaus around 6:00pm (2200 GMT) Sunday.

‘Can of sardines’

Initial news reports had said US nationals were believed to be on the plane, but Amazonas officials said preliminary investigations indicated all the victims were Brazilian.

The passengers were all men travelling to the Amazon from various parts of Brazil to go fishing, officials said.

Brazilian media aired cell phone videos they recorded before the crash, which showed them smiling and cracking jokes at the airport in Manaus and aboard the plane.

The small twin-engine was “like a can of sardines,” a passenger joked in one video, identified in media reports as Fabio Campos Assis, a businessman from the central-western town of Anapolis.

The victims also included a noted surgeon from Brasilia and a group of friends on their second fishing trip to the region, media reports said.

September is peak season for fishing in the area, a magnet for anglers chasing tropical river species such as the “tucunare,” or peacock bass.

Covered mostly in dense rainforest, Amazonas is a popular ecotourism destination. It receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, according to Amazonastur, the state tourism company.

Located on the Rio Negro tributary of the Amazon, Barcelos, a town of 19,000 people, is known as a jumping-off point for expeditions into the jungle.

The plane, a twin-engine turboprop made by Brazilian company Embraer, was operated by regional airline Manaus Aerotaxi.

Images from the scene showed the small white plane belly-down on a dirt track, its front end crumpled into the dense vegetation to the side.

Officials said two aircraft approaching Barcelos around the same time had returned to Manaus because of the storm. — AFP

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