Reprinted from Reuters
Written by: Raymond Colitt and Alberto Alerigi
BRASILIA, Feb 8 – Rescue workers recovered 24 bodies on Sunday from the bottom of a river in the Amazon jungle after a plane crashed in bad weather, airline officials and rescue workers said.
Divers pulled the bodies out of the wreckage in the murky waters of the Manacapuru River some 100 km (62.5 miles) southwest of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state.
“In total there were 28 people on board, including eight small children and two crew members,” Paulo Roberto Pereira, a spokesman for regional charter airline Manaus Aero Taxi, told Reuters.
“Four people survived the crash,” said Pereira, who had said on Saturday that a total of 24 people were on board.
The plane hit the crown of a tree before plunging into the river, Roberto Rocha, undersecretary of Civil Defense, told local media. One passenger managed to open a door before the plane sank and escaped with three others, Rocha said.
The official passenger list showed only 20 people on board, an Air Force spokesman told Reuters on Sunday.
The bodies were taken to the morgue in Manaus and had been identified by family members, Pereira said.
Detective Roberto Almeida of the police in Manacapuru municipality said there were seven dead children.
The EMB-110 Bandeirante turboprop plane made by Brazil’s Embraer (EMBR3.SA)(ERJ.N) had left the city of Coari, some 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Manaus. The pilot told air traffic controllers he wanted to return because of bad weather but crashed around 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, Pereira said.
One of the four survivors told local media that one of the plane’s engines failed during flight.
“We won’t know the cause for sure until they lift the plane and authorities finish their report,” Pereira said.
Brazil had two major plane crashes in 2006 and 2007, raising concerns about the safety of air travel in Latin America’s largest country.