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Plane crash in Venezuela kills all 160 on board

Last updated on: August 17, 2005 01:04 IST

A plane carrying vacationers home to the French Caribbean island of Martinique crashed on Tuesday in western Venezuela after reporting engine problems, killing all 160 people on board, officials said.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was headed from Panama to Martinique when its pilot requested permission to make an emergency landing just after 1230 IST, saying there was trouble with both engines, said Colonel Francisco Paz, president of the National Civil Aviation Institute.

Airport authorities lost radio contact with the West Caribbean Airways plane roughly 10 minutes later in the remote area of Machiques, near the border with Colombia some 650 km west of Caracas, he said.

"The plane went out of control and crashed," Paz said. "There are no survivors."

Rescue teams pulled dozens of bodies from the wreckage, which officials said was strewn across a forested area among farms near Venezuela's border with Colombia.

The French civil aviation authority said all of the passengers were French citizens from Martinique, and confirmed that all died in the crash.

The airline, in a statement from Colombia, said 152 passengers, including an infant, and eight Colombian crew members were aboard the MD82, made by McDonnell Douglas.

Venezuelan officials confirmed there were 160 aboard, including eight crew members.

The airline said the pilot reported an emergency 30 km from the Colombia-Venezuela border. Authorities said the plane requested permission to attempt an emergency landing at the nearby airport in Maracaibo, Venezuela, but never made it.

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