Wreckage of Peruvian plane found
Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 15:24 GMT
Police rescue teams and bystanders

The aerial search was hampered by heavy rains


Rescue helicopters have spotted the wreckage of a Peruvian passenger aircraft which disappeared over the Amazon jungle on Thursday.

The head of the rescue operation said it appeared that the plane had been destroyed and that the 46 people on board could not have survived the crash.

Relatives of passengers waiting for news of the plane
Relatives have been waiting for two days for news

The wreckage was found on a mountainside 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of Chachapoyas, the plane's intended destination.

Heavy rains had hampered efforts to find the Fokker F-28 which lost contact with air traffic controllers minutes before it was due to land.

Eight children were among the passengers on the Tans Peru flight which originated in the capital, Lima.

Tourist attraction

"The survey of the wreckage shows an initial impact and that the plane then slammed into the mountain," the Amazonas region fire chief, David Reina, said.

"It is impossible that people are alive. The impact must have been tremendous."

A foot patrol is reported to have arrived at the crash site.

Reports say the mountains were covered by low-hanging clouds at the time of the accident.

The airline said the flight had left Lima with 38 passengers, and picked up four more in Chiclayo.

The missing include a Belgian man, Christophe Dubois, and his wife Sofia Porfirio, according to the airline.

Chachapoyas, the capital of Amazonas province, situated some 650 kilometres (390 miles) north of Lima, is close to ancient Indian ruins, and is frequently visited by tourists.

Tans Peru launched its twice-weekly Chiclayo-Chachapoyas route in November 2002 as part of a plan to boost tourism in the mountainous jungle region.

In 1987, difficult terrain and heavy rains of Peru's mountains delayed search efforts for 10 days, when a plane with 46 people on board went down near the jungle city of Saposoa.

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