BRAZIL: Air experts brief press but can't say what caused the accident that killed at least 200 peopleRecord ID: 382721
- Title: BRAZIL: Air experts brief press but can't say what caused the accident that killed at least 200 people
- Date: 19th July 2007
- Summary: PEOPLE LOOKING AT CRASH SITE WITH FLAMES STILL BURNING FLAMES
- Reuters ID: LVA29A2U6NNZP5LOPYU5IP6YKUNW
- Location: Brazil
- Country: Brazil
- Duration: 00:00:14
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Story Text: Video cameras at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport captured images of the doomed TAM Airbus A320 as it attempted to land and crashed Tuesday (July 17) night.
The plane was carrying 186 passengers and crew when it slid off a short, rain-soaked runway, hurdling across a busy road before slamming into a gas station and cargo terminal.
Firefighters have so far found 170 bodies. Three severely injured victims had been rushed to hospital but then died, raising the official toll to 173.
State officials said they did not expect any survivors from the flight operated by Brazil's No. 1 carrier, TAM Linhas Aereas. One fire chief said the death toll could reach 200, counting casualties on the ground.
At the TAM cargo building hit by the plane, five workers were missing. Eleven were hospitalized.
The Director of Engineering for INFRAERO, Brazil's National Airport Authority, Armando Schneider Filho held a news conference Wednesday (July 18) where he told members of the press the reason for the accident remained unknown.
"I cannot believe that any pilot landing at Congonhas, on a runway which is already relatively critical, in a large aircraft would not consider that (wet runway) upon landing," he told reporters. "It is premature to say what happened, that it skidded, that it hydroplaned, that there was a defect with the plane."
The airfield reopened on Wednesday using an alternate runway. But the mood was sombre, with families of victims weeping in grief and some travellers reluctant to fly.
Rescue teams found the cockpit recorder in the wreckage of the crashed plane. Large yellow cranes helped lift rubble from ruined buildings.
"It could have been human error, it could have been the runway, it could have been the plane which may have been under stress," said the crash site investigator Kersul Filho.
Tuesday's crash highlighted long-standing safety concerns about Sao Paulo's airport, known for its slippery runways, and capped months of chaos in the country's air transport system.
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