Passenger plane crashes in Argentina

Aircraft carrying at least 22 people goes down in southern Patagonia region, local TV reports.

    A plane carrying 22 people has crashed in Argentina's southern Patagonia region, killing all on board, officials have said.

    The plane, operated by regional airline Sol, crashed late on Wednesday in the province of Rio Negro, near the town of Prahuaniyeu, local TV said.

    Horacio Farre, a spokesman for the private company Sol, confirmed on Thursday that there had been no survivors.

    The aircraft was reportedly travelling between the southern cities of Neuquen and Comodoro Rivadavia, in Rio Negro province, local officials said.

    Ambulances and firefighting units were sent to the scene of the crash.

    "We did not find anyone alive. There were no survivors. The plane is in multiple charred fragments. Everything is burnt and smashed to pieces," local hospital director Ismael Ali, who participated in the rescue mission, said.

    Ali said a witness had reported seeing a fireball crash into a field near his home, indicating a possible mid-air explosion.

    Al Jazeera's Craig Mauro, reporting from the capital Buenos Aires, said that the plane is said to have crashed in a very remote place, where no mobile phone or even radio communications are available.

    Remote region

    The company said the plane had taken off at 8.08pm (2308 GMT) and crashed around 45 minutes later, shortly after issuing a distress signal.

    The passengers on the Saab 340 twin-engine aircraft included 18 adults, one minor and three crew members, the company said, adding that an investigation would be carried out to determine the cause of the crash.

    Isabel Yahuar, mayor of the nearby town of Los Menucos, said the recovery had been difficult as the plane crashed in a remote region in the foothills of the Andes.

    "In the area of the accident there is no mobile phone signal," she told local television.

    "It's very cold and the conditions of the rescue were very difficult."

    The crash came two days after a small plane crashed outside Sao Paulo in neighbouring Brazil, killing its four passengers.

    The last major plane crash in Argentina was in 1999, when a LAPA flight crashed into the side of a hill in Buenos Aires during a botched takeoff, killing 65 passengers.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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