Eight people killed in Suriname plane crash: official

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At least eight people were killed Saturday when a Russian-built airplane on a domestic flight crashed in Suriname, near the border with French Guiana, Mohammed Sherief Saboerali, deputy head of the Aviation Authority, confirmed on Sunday.

"All eight are dead", he said.

A French rescue team with a helicopter assisted in the hunt for the plane and passengers, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Slijngaard, head of the National Coordinating Center for Disaster Management (NCCR) said.

"The French helicopters had to drop their rescuers vertically to reach the area. They returned at Stoelmans Island and reported they did not find any survivors and it doesn't look good down there", Slijngaard explained.

A joint rescue team left Sunday morning to hunt down the twin-engine Antonov AN-28 that crashed Saturday in the jungle some 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Paramaribo, carrying two pilots and six other Surinamese nationals.

The rescuers had to deal with lots of obstacles such as heavy rain, hills, and a dense forest, Slijngaard explained.

In the late afternoon, the hunt was stopped due bad weather conditions and will continue its search Monday morning.

The twin engine Antonov 28 that crashed belongs to Blue Wings Airline, a small Paramaribo-based airline. The flight was heading back to the domestic airport Zorg and Hoop, in Paramaribo.

"The plane crashed ten minutes after taking off from the domestic airfield Godo Olo at 14:30", Saboerali said. Villagers reported seeing the plane loosing height, hearing an explosion and seeing a fireball in the air.

In April 2008 the company already lost one Antonov 28 when it crashed at Benzdorp, near the border with French Guiana, killing 19 people.

© 2010 AFP

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