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Tue, Aug 16, 2005

Aero-News Alert: Passenger Plane Down In Venezuela

152 Passengers On Board

ANN REAL TIME NEWS: 0950 EDT -- Venezuelan authorities now say a Western Caribbean Airways MD-82 carrying 152 passengers and as many as eight crew members crashed in the jungle about 20-miles from the Colombian border Tuesday. No one aboard is thought to have survived.

Francisco Paz, president of the National Aviation Institute, said authorities in the tower at the Caracas airport lost contact with the plane about ten minutes after the pilot reported trouble with both engines. At the time, it was flying neaer Machiques, 400 miles west of Caracas in the border state of Zulia.

"Residents in the area said they heard an explosion,'' Paz said, quoted by the AP.

Interior Minister Jesse Chacon said, "It's very unlikely there could be survivors.''

0750 EDT -- A passenger aircraft with at least 152 people on boad has crashed in Venezuela, according to local media reports.

The Western Caribbean Airways plane, type unkown, was reportedly headed from Panama to Martinique, according to an aviation official in Caracas. The pilot reported engine problems to the airport in Caracas.

The aircraft went down along the border between Venezuela and Colombia -- a rugged area rife with rebels.

There were no immediate reports of survivors.

FMI: www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ve.html

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