Venezuelan officials believe the crash was caused by loss of control of the plane [AFP]

Two people, who initially survived a plane crash in eastern Venezuela, have died due to severe injuries, raising the toll to 17 victims.

"We now have a total of 17 dead and 34 injured," Jose Khan, minister of basic industries, said on state-run VTV television on Tuesday.

The French-built ATR 42, carrying 51 passengers, went down about 10km from its destination, the airport in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz on Monday.

President Hugo Chavez declared three days of mourning in the country. The flight had taken off from Margarita Island, a Caribbean island that is one of Venezuela's top tourist destinations.

Crash zone

"The plane fell onto a local metal factory inside a huge industrial zone and it fell on to an area of waste. We have now confirmed that no one on the ground was hurt ... all the injured and dead were on the plane."

Our correspondent said the "pilot did report he was having problems; we assume they were mechanical as there were no reports of bad weather".

Gomez, the governor, said the crash was apparently caused by "loss of control" of the plane.

The state airline, Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aeros SA, began operations in 2004. It says it serves destinations in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Argentina, Iran and Syria.

One of the world's deadliest airplane crashes, a 2005 accident that killed 160 people, happened in Venezuela.

Source: Agencies