Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bolivian Senator, 10 Others Die in Three L.America Plane Crashes

Authorities work at the scene of a light aircraft crash in which a Bolivian opposition Senator Gerald Ortiz died, near to the airport Viru Viru, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 21 April 2012. The father of the legislator Luis Ortiz, pilot of the aircraft, and mechanic Mario Torres, also died in the crash. 
Credit: EPA 

Eleven people, including a senior Bolivian opposition senator, have been killed in three separate private plane crashes in Bolivia and Guatemala.

A twin-engine Curtiss C-46 plane with four people on board, including the senator, Gerald Ortiz, crashed just minutes after take-off from the Viru Viri international airport in the eastern Bolivian city if Santa Cruz on Saturday, the country’s chief civil aviation official, Luis Coimbra, said.

The plane, flown by Ortiz’s father, with the senator as second pilot, went down while trying to make an emergency landing. It split into two parts and burst into flames after hitting the ground.

The senator’s son, who was one of the two passengers onboard, survived the crash. He is in hospital.

Ortiz, 46, was head of the commission in charge of international affairs in the Bolivian Senate.

Another plane, the single-engine Cessna 206, disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday. It crashed 10 kilometers from the southern town of Monteagudo, where it was discovered later in the day. The five people on board died.

The causes of the two crashes are yet to be established. Bolivian President Evo Morales expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.

Another air accident occurred on Saturday in Guatemala, where a private single-engine plane crashed on a zoo on the outskirts of Guatemala City, firefighters said. The three people on board – two crew members and a passenger – were killed.

The plane crew reported a technical failure immediately after take-off from La Aurora airport in the Guatemalan capital. The aircraft crashed while trying to make an emergency landing.

The falling plane had hit a zoo employee who was taken to hospital with serious burns.

There could have been more casualties if the crew did not manage to maneuver the aircraft away from the main area of the zoo where some 100 people gathered on a Saturday afternoon, eyewitnesses said.

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