Plane With 170 Aboard Crashes in Brazil
By Alan Clendenning
A plane with as many as 170 people aboard crashed and burst into flames in Sao Paulo
on Tuesday after skidding off a runway that has been criticized as being too short in a driving rain, the nation's airport authority said.
There were no immediate reports of deaths by authorities, but a witness said he saw one charred body as flames shot into the sky and clouds of black smoke billowed into the air after the crash.
The Tam airline's Airbus-320 skidded off the runway at Congonhas airport, then crossed a busy road at the height of rush hour in South America's largest city before slamming into a gas station, said Jose Leonardi Mota, a spokesman with airport authority Infraero.
Tam worker Elias Rodrigues Jesus, walking near the site just as the crash happened, told The Associated Press that the jet exploded in between the gas station and a warehouse owned by Tam.
"All of a sudden I heard a loud explosion, and the ground beneath my feet shook," Jesus said. "I looked up and I saw a huge ball of fire, and then I smelled the stench of kerosene and sulfur."
Jesus said he saw one charred body, and Globo TV reported that at least eight people were being treated for injuries. It was not clear whether they were passengers or had been in the building.
Tam Linhas Aereas flight 3054 was en route to Sao Paulo from the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre with between 150 and 170 people on board, Mota said. The government-run Agencia Brasil news agency said there were 170 passengers and eight crew members on the jet.