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Archive for Saturday, January 11, 2003

Rescuers search jungle for plane

January 11, 2003

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— Rescue teams struggled on foot through rugged mountains Friday searching for a missing Peruvian airliner with 46 people aboard as heavy fog and torrential rain kept reconnaissance helicopters from the skies.

TANS Airline flight 222 was three minutes from landing at the Chachapoyas airport when radio contact was lost with the plane at 8:43 a.m. Thursday. It was not raining when the plane disappeared but low-hanging clouds covered the mountains near Chachapoyas, meteorologists said.

The missing state-owned airliner carried four crew members and 42 passengers, including eight children -- one of them a baby. TANS spokeswoman Carmen Mayorca said three foreigners were on the plane -- Spaniard Isabel Perez and a Belgian husband and wife, Christophe Dubois and Sofia Porfirio.

The weather around Chachapoyas, the city near where the plane went down, was clear Friday morning as three rescue squads began a difficult trek into the jungle-covered mountains. But a heavy downpour began at mid-morning and continued into the afternoon.

Chachapoyas, a city of 20,000 people, is some 400 miles north of Lima.

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