December 21, 1995
Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EST (1550 GMT)
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombian aviation officials now say there were some survivors of an American Airlines flight that crashed into a mountainside near Cali Wednesday evening. The plane carried 152 adult passengers, four infants, and a crew of eight. The Red Cross has reported as many as four survivors.
Rescue and recovery workers were unable to reach the site until daybreak Thursday, but witnesses who live near the mountainous region said the plane struck a mountainside and erupted into a huge fireball.
Flight 965, a Boeing 757-200, departed Miami at 6:35 p.m. EST Wednesday. It was scheduled to arrive in Cali at 9:45 p.m. EST, but lost radio contact at 9:40 p.m.
The plane went down on the side of a peak named El Deluvio, about 40 miles from Cali. The area, described as remote, wooded terrain, also is reported to be a "hot zone" for leftist guerrillas, but they are not suspected of any responsibility for the crash.
The air control tower in Cali denied earlier reports that the plane's pilot had reported engine trouble. Officials there said that the last contact with the flight was a request to come down to about 3,000 feet to prepare for landing approach.
The flight's departure from Miami was pushed back two hours as it waited for other flights delayed by a winter storm in the northeastern United States. Despite the wait, several passengers scheduled to be on Flight 965 were left behind because their flights did not arrive in time.
American Airlines has set up phone numbers for people seeking information about passengers. In the United States, the number is 800-245-0999. In South America, the number is 980 11 00 10 for information in English and 980 11 00 11 for information in Spanish.
American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle said that the airline is gathering the maintenance records for the aircraft, which was delivered to it in 1991. He said an emergency response team also had been flown to Colombia and was attempting to reach the site of the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigators from the United States are on their way to Colombia to assist officials there. Boeing, the aircraft's manufacturer, also has sent an investigation team to the site.
The FAA recently downgraded Colombia's civil aviation authority rating to "conditional," saying that some areas "do not meet international safety standards."
The crash is the deadliest involving a U.S. airliner since Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed over Scotland in 1988. Ironically, that crash occurred on December 21, killing 270 people. The latest crash also is the deadliest in Colombia's history.
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