|The jet skidded off the wet runway and crossed a busy road
before crashing into the fuel storage warehouse [EPA]
Up to 200 people are feared dead after a Brazilian passenger jet crashed into a warehouse storing fuel and set off a huge fire at Sao Paulo‘s Congonhas airport.
Rescue crews said none of the 176 people on board the Airbus A320 were likely to have survived, according to Jose Serra, the governor of Sao Paulo.
“I was told that the temperature inside the plane was 1,000 degrees [Celsius], so the chances of there being any survivors are practically nil,” he said at the airport.
Brazilian news agency Folha quoted Manuel Antonio da Silva Araujo, the leader of a rescue crew, as saying there could be 200 people dead, including casualties on the ground.
As many as 12 people on the ground were injured and taken to hospitals, Serra added.
Airline officials said 170 passengers and six crew members were on board Brazilian airline Tam flight 3054 flying from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil when it lost control on landing in driving rain and skidded off the wet runway.
|More than 200 firefighters and dozens of
ambulances rushed to the scene [EPA]
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo said the jet crossed a busy road before hitting the fuel storage warehouse with employees inside.
Dozens of ambulances raced to the crash site just outside the airport and television images showed the jet’s tail sticking out from a building in flames as more than 200 firefighters tried to put out the blaze.
Congonhas airport – the largest domestic hub in the country – was closed to air traffic and all streets around it were closed by police.
Buildings nearby were evacuated and masks were distributed because of the thick smoke. A power outage at the airport hampered rescue efforts.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, declared three days of national mourning.
Presidential spokesman Marcelo Baumbach said no cause would be immediately released because it was premature to do so.
The runway at Sao Paulo‘s Congonhas airport has been repeatedly criticised for its short length, and two planes slipped off it in rainy weather just a day earlier, though no one was injured in either incident.
Congressman Julio Redecker was among those on the flight, but an aide did not know whether he was dead or injured.
The airline released a list of most of the people on the flight early on Wednesday morning, but did not specify their nationalities.
“Tam expresses its most profound condolences to the relatives and friends of the passengers who were on flight 3054,” the company said.
Tuesday’s crash came 10 months after Brazil‘s deadliest crash, a collision between a Gol Aerolinhas Inteligentes SA Boeing 737 and an executive jet over the Amazon rainforest.
All 154 people on the passenger jet died while the executive jet landed safely.
The September crash highlighted Brazil‘s increasing aviation woes, as a surge in travellers overwhelms underfunded air traffic control systems.
Controllers have engaged in strikes and work slowdowns to raise safety concerns, causing or exacerbating lengthy delays and cancellations.