August 26, 2005

Woman believed killed in Peru crash found alive

By Mariana Bazo

PUCALLPA, Peru (Reuters) - A Peruvian woman believed killed
when a plane plowed into a jungle swamp has been found in a
hospital, reducing the number of victims to 39 and bringing
that of survivors to 59, the airline said on Friday.

A 28-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was found
by her husband in a hospital in Pucallpa, near where the Boeing
737-200 crashed in a freak hailstorm as it came in to land,
said a spokesman for state-owned airline TANS who declined to
give his name.

The woman has been transferred to Lima, where she was in
serious condition and on a ventilator. Her son, who was
traveling with her, was reported to have undergone surgery in
the capital.

The crash killed 32 Peruvians, three Americans, one man and
two women; a Spanish woman: a Colombian woman; an Australian
woman and an Italian man, said Jorge Belevan, a second TANS

Only six of the dead, all Peruvians, have not been
identified, said Belevan. Their bodies are in the morgue of the
steamy northern jungle town of Pucallpa.

The plane was reduced to chunks of charred rubble and body
parts were strewn about, yet more than half the 98 passengers
and crew miraculously survived.

Survivors, including a 9-year-old girl who rescued her baby
cousin and a man who watched his skin shrivel as a fireball
swept the plane, told stories of heroism and horror, including
how a baby was plucked from the mud.

Rescue workers resumed their search early on Friday for the
second black box, which could provide clues about an accident
officials have said may have been caused by bad weather or an
error by the pilot, who died.

Torrential rain and lightning interrupted search efforts on
Thursday. Police and soldiers were also hampered by hundreds of
bounty-hunters, who swarmed over the chaotic wreckage, grabbing
anything of value.

People have been seen walking through town, carrying
airline sheets and metal rods, and locals said aircraft parts
were being sold in second-hand markets.

Thousands of scattered bank notes -- wages being flown in
for police officers -- also attracted looters.

TANS says it will pay about $100,000 compensation per

The accident has highlighted poor infrastructure in the
sector. Though Peru attracts millions of tourists a year, many
of its airports are little more than airstrips and only the
international airport in Lima has radar.

TANS, founded in the 1960s by the air force to help serve
remote jungle communities, became a commercial airline in 1998
but is deeply in debt. The crashed plane was built in 1983.

Peru has said it has had preliminary contacts about selling
a stake in the airline to Air China, but a source at the
Chinese airline stressed the talks were only informal and
unlikely to lead to any deal as TANS is too small.