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130 survive plane crash


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130 survive plane crash

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BOGOTA, Colombia – A Boeing 737 jetliner carrying 131 people crashed in a thunderstorm and broke apart as it slid onto the runway on a Caribbean island. The region’s governor said it was a miracle that only one person died.Colombian Air Force Colonel David Barrero said officials were investigating reports the plane had been hit by lightning before crashing  on San Andres Island, a resort area of 78 000 people about 120 miles (190 kilometres) east of the Nicaraguan coast. San Andres Governor Pedro Gallardo said 125 passengers and six crew members had been aboard Aires Flight 8520, but the only person killed was Amar Fernandez de Barreto, 68.“It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God [that only one person died],” said Governor Pedro Gallardo. Officials said 119 people were treated or checked at local clinics and five of them were seriously injured. The state government said in an email that passengers aboard the plane that left Bogota about midnight included eight United States citizens and four Brazilians. They were not identified.Passenger Ricardo Ramirez, a vacationing civil engineer, told Caracol Radio that all had seemed normal, even though the plane was flying through a storm, with flashes of lightning, as it neared the airport.“The plane was going perfectly, we were practically going to land, everything was under control,” he said. “The accident appeared out of nowhere.”The plane hit short of the runway and slid forward on its belly as the fuselage fractured and bits of landing gear and at least one engine were ripped off. The jet wound up on one end of the runway, crumpled and in pieces, as passengers scrambled or were helped to safety.Firefighters quickly doused the beginnings of a fire on a wing, said police General Orlando Paez.Ninety-nine passengers were taken to the Amor de Patria Hospital on San Andres, said the hospital director, Dr Robert Sanchez.He added that an initial examination indicated that Fernandez de Barreto may have died of a heart attack.Twenty other passengers were treated at another clinic, according to the national civil aviation agency.Barrero, commander of the Caribbean Air Group, said that “the skill of the pilot kept the plane from colliding with the airport”. (AP)

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