Plane Crashes in Venezuela; 46 Aboard

Caracas-bound turboprop went missing after takeoff; no word on casualties
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2008 9:40 PM CST
Relatives of passengers on board a commercial flight flying from the southern Venezuela town of Merida to Caracas reported missing wait for news at the the desk of Venezuelan Santa Barbara airlines at...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A plane crashed in western Venezuela with 46 people aboard today, AFP reports. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the airliner soon after it took off from the Andean city of Merida bound for Caracas. People in the mountainous Coyado del Condor region reported seeing a plane go down. Merida's head of civil defense said search-and-rescue teams were on the way.

The plane, an ATR 42-300 turboprop, went missing after it took off just before dusk from the high-altitude city, Reuters reports. The crash area is reported to be about 15,000 feet above sea level. There has been no immediate word on the fate of the 43 passengers and three crew.  "This causes a lot of fear, a lot of pain," an official said.  (Read more Venezuela stories.)