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Survivors recall escape from Brazil plane crash

  • Story Highlights
  • A total of 28 people were aboard Brazilian flight that crashed in Amazon Basin
  • Four survived the plane crash, were rescued by emergency teams
  • Plane was trying to make an emergency landing, official says
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) -- A woman who survived a weekend plane crash in Brazil that killed 24 told Monday of struggling to reach a square of light in the submerged plane, while another said she had no doubt she owed her survival to God.

There were a total of 28 people aboard the flight, which crashed in an Amazon Basin river. Only four survived.

The four passengers were rescued by emergency teams after the Brazilian-made Bandeirante turboprop aircraft went down Saturday afternoon in the Manacapuru River, a tributary of the Solimoes River, reports said.

"Before the fall, I was looking at the emergency door, but what sustained me was God," Brenda Dias Moraes told the local O Coariense newspaper. "I saw many people shouting, 'Open the emergency door.' I could not see anything in front of me. I am certain I was guided."

Another survivor described the struggle to get out.

"When I opened my eyes and released the seat belt, I saw that all the chairs were in front," said Ana Lucia Lauria. "I turned toward the square that I managed to see, which gave the light of day. I guided myself there and left the aircraft."

Fisherman Edmilson Viana was one of the rescuers.

"The great desire was to rescue more lives," he told O Coariense. "I could not do anything because I had no breath."

The plane took off from Coari, about 225 miles (362 kilometers) southwest of the state capital of Manaus, where the flight was headed.

The Aviation Safety Network, a resource center for aircraft accidents and civil aviation safety issues, posted a summary online that stated: "Press reports indicate that the pilot contacted Manaus [air traffic control] about one hour after takeoff. He stated his intentions of returning to Coari due to heavy rainfall en route. Contact with the flight was lost shortly afterward."

Civil Defense Coordinator Daniel Guedes told O Coariense the airplane was trying to make an emergency landing on a make-shift landing strip but crashed into the river.

"The survivors said they saw one of the plane's motors shut down. We thought he would try to land on a deactivated landing strip, but he couldn't make it," Guedes said.

There were unofficial indications that the airplane may have been overloaded.

The airplane involved, an EMB-110P1, has a certificated maximum of 19 passenger seats, the Aviation Safety Network said. On Saturday's flight, 26 passengers had boarded the plane, including eight small children.

Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo, a national daily newspaper, said a 9-year-old child was among the survivors.

Embraer, the Brazilian company that manufactured the airplane, has expressed its sorrows and has sent a specialized team to help in the investigation, the official Agencia Brasil news agency said.

Likewise, the airline, Manaus Aerotaxi, expressed condolences in a message on its Web site and said it was assisting in the investigation. The airline also said it was offering assistance to the survivors as well as the families of the deceased.

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