No survivors likely in Brazilian crash

Plane wreckage found

at least 155 feared dead

October 01, 2006|By New York Times News Service

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- A Brazilian air force search and rescue team located yesterday the wreckage of a Boeing 737 that was reported to have collided with a smaller executive jet over the Amazon on Friday afternoon.

Authorities said the plane, with 155 people on board, appeared to have hit the ground vertically and that the likelihood of anyone having survived the crash was therefore remote.

Gol Airlines Flight 1907 was on its way to Rio de Janeiro from Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, with a scheduled stop in Brasilia, when it vanished from radar screens.

Because of the remoteness of the area where investigators in helicopters found the plane yesterday morning, determining whether there are survivors and rescuing them would require more time than usual, military and civilian aviation officials said. The plane crashed in dense jungle northwest of Xingu National Park.

The second plane, a Brazilian-made Embraer Legacy business jet, had damage to a wing and the tail but made an emergency landing at a Brazilian Air Force base in Para state in the Amazon.

A reporter for The New York Times, Joe Sharkey, was one of seven people aboard the plane, all of whom were "OK, but shaken," according to an e-mail message Sharkey sent to his wife, Nancy, an editor at the paper.

"No one believes we managed to survive a midair collision," Sharkey wrote. "Neither of the pilots can understand how a 737 could have hit us without them seeing it," he added, saying that the smaller plane was "flying stable northwest at 37,000 feet with the sun off the left wing, and a 737 would have been obvious."

Both of the aircraft were new, authorities said, and were equipped with anti-collision devices.

Gol took delivery of its plane last month, while the Legacy jet, part of a line of planes which has made considerable inroads into the business market since production began about four years ago, was on its way to the United States from the Embraer factory in Sao Jose dos Campos, near Sao Paulo.

Gol Airlines, a budget carrier that began flying in 2001, has never had a fatal accident.

Gen. Jose Carlos Pereira, director of the Brazilian equivalent of the Federal Aviation Authority, said the investigation of the collision would take several months and would focus on two issues: why the planes were at the same level and why the anti-collision instruments on both planes failed to activate.

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