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Brazilian plane crash 'kills 200'


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The plane skidded across a main road before hitting a fuel depot


A passenger plane has crashed and burst into flames at Brazil's busiest airport, in the heart of Sao Paulo, killing up to 200 people.

Rescue crews said none of the 186 people on board the Airbus A320 could have survived, while more people were killed on the ground.


The TAM airliner skidded off the runway as it landed in wet weather, shot over a busy road and hit a fuel depot.


Concerns had been raised about the safety of the runway during heavy rain.


There had been persistent, heavy downpours in the two hours before the accident.


TAM Express flight 3054 was carrying 186 passengers and crew when it attempted to land at Congonhas airport, which is mainly used for regional flights from other parts of Brazil and South America.


The plane was travelling to Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial capital, from Porto Alegre in the south of the country.


After touching down on the main runway at 1850 (2150 GMT) on Tuesday, the jet began to skid and then dropped down a steep slope at the end of the runway.


It then shot over a major road and crashed into a four-storey building used for storing cargo and fuel.


The warehouse was busy with airport workers, some of whom had to jump out of windows.


The plane's tail could later be seen sticking out from the building in flames.


Fires were still burning hours after the crash, with black smoke trailing off into the night sky.


An eyewitness, TAM employee Elias Rodrigues Jesus, said the plane exploded after slamming into the depot.


"All of a sudden I heard a loud explosion, and the ground beneath my feet shook," he told the Associated Press news agency.


"I looked up and I saw a huge ball of fire, and then I smelled the stench of kerosene and sulphur."


A doctor at Sao Paulo's mortuary said 30 badly charred bodies had been brought in.


Sao Paulo State Governor Jose Serra said: "I was told that the temperature inside the plane was 1,000C [1,830F], so the chances of there being any survivors are practically nil."


President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared three days of national mourning for the victims.


Safety concerns


The weather had been bad for much of the day and there has been concern for some time about safety at Congonhas during heavy rain.


On Monday, a smaller plane skidded off the runway onto the nearby grass in similar conditions.


In February, a judge briefly banned three types of large passenger jet from using the runway because it was too short to accommodate them, and because of concerns over the airport's drainage system


Pilots had complained that water was pooling on the surface of the landing strip, making braking difficult and occasionally causing planes to skid out of control.


Remedial work, including laying a new surface, has been carried out in recent months.


Air safety in Brazil has been a major issue since a crash last year when a passenger plane collided with an executive jet over the Amazon, killing some 154 people.





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Brazil jet disaster probe begins



Congonhas airport is very close to the city centre


Rescue workers and crash investigators are searching the wreckage of an Airbus 320 Brazilian passenger jet that crashed in flames at Sao Paulo airport.

All 186 people on board Tam Airlines Flight 3054 from the southern city of Porto Alegre died, as well as up to 15 people on the ground.


The plane slipped on Congonhas airport runway as it landed in driving rain.


The pilot tried to take off again, but the jet slid across a busy road, hit a fuel depot and warehouse, and exploded.


Congonhas airport is notorious for its short and often slippery runway, and its proximity to the city centre.


Among others, the investigation is to look into the condition of the recently resurfaced runway, concerns about which had been the subject of court decisions.


Runway ban


Reports spoke of motorists being killed on the road and people jumping out of the windows of the low-rise Tam Airlines building.


"The plane accelerated when it reached the end of the runway and tried to take off again to avoid the road, but it crashed into the building and exploded," eyewitness Junior Matos told AFP news agency.


Guido Reusch, who was on an apartment block balcony overlooking the runway, told the BBC that he had watched the plane coming in.


"It touched down in front of us, left the runway, slid off behind the buildings at the end of the runway and crashed," he said.


"There was a big explosion from behind the buildings, and fire and smoke flew up into the air, and we could smell the smoke being blown across the airport," Mr Reusch added.


More than 100 bodies have now been recovered from the wreckage, many of them charred beyond recognition.


A Brazilian opposition congressman, Julio Redecker, is reported to have been among those on the flight.


President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has declared three days of national mourning for the victims of what is thought to be Brazil's worst air disaster.


The state's attorney general, Rodrigo Pinho, said the authorities would carry out a thorough crash investigation "to determine the cause and to identify who was responsible".


In February, a local judge banned the use of the airport by Fokker 100, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-700 jets, but this was overturned by an appeals court.


Remedial work, including laying a new surface, has been carried out in recent months.


However, questions remain about whether the runway had been sufficiently grooved to drain water in heavy rains.


A day before Tuesday's accident, another plane skidded off the airport's runway.


Previously, the worst accident in Brazil's aviation history occurred last September, when a Gol Boeing 737 flying from Manaos to Brasilia crashed into the Amazon jungle, killing all 154 people on board after a mid-air collision with a small private jet.


In 1996, a Tam Airlines Fokker-100 crashed minutes after take off from Congonhas airport, bursting into flames and killing all 96 people on board and three on the ground.



Temperatures in the fire reportedly reached 1,000C



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The president of the TAM's company said that an error have already been reported before the plane's flight. They were expecting to fix it after 10 flights just if necessary. If nothing happened, they wouldn't fix it in order to save money! :stunned: That's just unbeliveable...


And now, the airports are in caos again. Another crisis, 60% of delayed and cancelled flights

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