March 1, 1996
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EST (0330 GMT)
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- Red Cross workers began removing charred bodies from the wreckage of a Peruvian commercial jet Friday morning, after spending much of the night walking into the remote Andean mountain canyon on foot.
All 117 passengers and six crew members on board the Faucett Airlines jet liner died Thursday night when the plane, apparently after bursting into flames in flight, crashed into the barren, rocky region. Workers have removed more than 50 bodies so far, but all, they say, are unrecognizably burned. The plane's flight recorders were recovered, but have yet to be analyzed.
The Faucett Airlines Boeing 737 crashed five miles from the airport at Arequipa as it prepared to land. The flight departed from Lima shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday night, scheduled to arrive at Arequipa at 8:15 p.m. (264K QuickTime movie)
Faucett spokesman Jorge Dacuna said that "everything was normal" when the crew contacted the control tower five minutes before the crash. But the crew on board an Aeroperu flight reported seeing the Faucett jet "completely in flames," according to a Lima airport official.
The plane's fuselage split into at least three sections on impact, and parts of the plane were scattered into a ravine near the impact site. Firefighters battled the blaze into Friday morning, hindered by the difficulty of access to the site.
"They had a hard time getting in," said Sharon Stevenson, a journalist in Peru. "There was no access by wheeled vehicles, and that .. made it impossible to put out the entire fire."
Distraught family members and friends began congregating at both the Arequipa and Lima airports late Thursday night demanding information. Peruvian Transport Minister Manuel Vara Ochoa traveled to the Lima airport Friday morning to console the families of victims.
Thousands of onlookers have also crowded near the crash site, slowing the progress of rescue workers. Police and army troops have been sent to the area to hold back the crowd.
The passenger list on the downed jet included more than 30 Chileans, two Canadians, two Belgians, two Bolivians and one Brazilian. The remaining 77 passengers and six crew members were Peruvian.
Thursday's accident was the worst air disaster in Peru's history. A crash in the 1970s near Cuzco killed 89 passengers and crew.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
Copyright © 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.