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58 survive Peru air crash

August 25, 2005 15:26 IST
Standing in a clearing near the flaming wreckage of a Peruvian airliner, a family huddled around a baby boy who survived being thrown from the aircraft after it crash-landed and splintered in the Amazon.

"My uncle told us, 'Let us pray' and we were silent," said Joshelyn Vivas, 15. "Hail was coming down on us and we went into like a cocoon around the baby."

TANS airline said wind shear on Tuesday afternoon might have forced the pilot's emergency landing, which killed four crewmembers and at least 33 passengers. But 58 others survived the crash-landing, among them, the Vivas family from Brooklyn, New York. "We jumped out the plane and unfortunately we were thigh deep in the marsh water. It was just mud," said the girl's uncle, Gabriel Vivas, a 41-year-old manager of an electronics rental shop. "We had to practically crawl out of there and try to get to some high ground."

The Boeing 737-200 was carrying 98 people, including six crewmembers, on a domestic flight from the Peruvian capital of Lima to the Amazon city of Pucallpa, company spokesman Jorge Belevan said on Wednesday. Belevan said three missing people might include survivors from Pucallpa who returned to their homes after the crash without receiving medical assistance.

Television images of the crash site showed mutilated bodies being retrieved from a marsh near the Pucallpa airport where the pilot attempted an emergency landing. The fuselage was shattered and pieces strewn along a 500-yard path made by the plane as it crash-landed.

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