Two killed in plane crash in Honduras

May 31st, 2008 - 5:25 am ICT by admin  

Tegucigalpa (Honduras), May 31 (DPA) Two people were killed when an airliner operated by Salvadoran company TACA crashed Friday on a road near Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Hospital sources said the head of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), Nicaraguan citizen Harry Brautigan, and airliner pilot, Salvadoran citizen Cesar Antony, were among the dead.

According to Honduran media, the driver of a taxi that was crushed by the out-of-control plane also died, although there was no official confirmation.

Local radio reported that the aircraft - an Airbus A-320 carrying at least 124 people - missed the runway in bad weather caused by tropical storm Alma. The plane managed to land, but the pilots lost control of its speed and it fell down a 20-metre ravine and crashed onto a nearby road.

TACA manager Armando Funes said the plane also crashed into a tree and was “broken in three”.

Eyewitness reports said several people were killed as the aeroplane crashed into two motor vehicles.

Several people reportedly suffered serious injuries in the accident.

The machine was arriving from Los Angeles, it stopped over in San Salvador with Tegucigalpa its final destination.

Former Honduran trade minister Norman Garcia, who was on board the aeroplane, was quoted by El Heraldo as saying that the plane had already made one failed attempt to land and circled for a second try. The second attempt ended tragically.

Rescue teams were particularly concerned with securing the aircraft’s fuel tanks, lest they explode.

Honduran Health Minister Elsa Palau said the Brazilian Ambassador in Honduras, Brian Michael Neele, was among the injured after accompanying Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at a meeting with Central American leaders in El Salvador.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya visited the Hospital-Escuela, the country’s main hospital, to express his interest in crash victims and encourage medical personnel in their efforts.

Zelaya said the crash provides more evidence of the urgent need to use the joint US-Honduran Palmerola Air Base, some 80 km north of Tegucigalpa, instead of Toncontin for international flights.

Tegucigalpa airport is considered dangerous as it is surrounded by mountains and has a short runway. In bad weather, it is relatively common for planes to be diverted to Salvadoran capital San Salvador or to San Pedro Sula, in Honduras.

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