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No survivors in Venezuela plane crash

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  • NEW: Searcher says plane "practically pulverized" in Venezuela mountains
  • Plane with 46 people on board crashes in the Andes Mountains
  • Aircraft was flying from Merida to airport near Caracas
  • There were no survivors, official says
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(CNN) -- Rescue teams on Friday found the wreckage of a plane that crashed Thursday night in the mountains of Venezuela, but none of the 46 people aboard survived, a searcher said.

"The impact was direct. The aircraft is practically pulverized," firefighter Jhonny Paz told Globovision, a privately owned Venezuelan television station. "There are no survivors."

There was no word on the cause of the crash.

Witnesses saw the Santa Barbara Airlines plane go down, according to Antonio Rivero, Venezuela's national director of civil protection.

Harsh weather and rough terrain in the Andes Mountains likely will make the job of emergency workers difficult, Rivero said on a state-run television station.

The plane went missing while flying from Merida to the international airport near Caracas, an official said.

The pilot did not check in with controllers 20 minutes into the flight, as scheduled, suggesting the plane encountered problems shortly after takeoff.

Nelson Marquez, chief of civil defense for Merida, said the plane was carrying 43 passengers and three crew members.

Media reports said the Santa Barbara Airlines plane was supposed to land about 7 p.m. local time Thursday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Guillermo Arduino and Adrian Criscaut contributed to this report.

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