Italian experts to assist Venezuela in plane crash investigation

7th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Italian experts have been sent to Venezuela to investigate the disappearance of a plane that crashed at sea last month with 14 people on board, including a Swiss man, and eight Italians.

7 February 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela - Italian experts have been sent to Venezuela to investigate the disappearance of a plane that crashed at sea last month with 14 people on board, including a Swiss man, and eight Italians, an emergency official said Wednesday.

Experts from Italy's navy, air force and civil protection office will meet with investigators to analyze information gathered so far on the January 4 crash, said Gen. Antonio Rivero, head of Venezuela's emergency management agency.

"Whatever contribution they may make that helps locate the plane will be welcome," Rivero said.

The body of the plane's Venezuelan co-pilot washed up on the country's Caribbean coast last month, along with a life jacket. Despite a search lasting weeks, rescuers found no other signs of victims or wreckage.

The twin-engine plane, operated by the small local carrier Transaven, went down during a flight from Caracas to Venezuela's Los Roques Islands, a popular tourist spot with world-class scuba diving and white sand beaches, officials said.

The pilot radioed to controllers that he was having engine problems and would try to set the plane down near some coral reefs. Rivero has said he believes the plane "sank completely without leaving a trace on the surface."

Five Venezuelans, including the pilot and co-pilot, were also onboard.

[Copyright ap 2008]

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