World

155 feared dead in Brazilian plane disaster: officials

Brazil's air force has located the wreckage of a passenger plane that disappeared over the Amazon rainforest with 155 people aboard.

Emergency workers chopped through dense Amazon rain forest Saturdayin an attempt toreach the wreckage of a Brazilian jetliner carrying 155 people that likely plunged vertically into the jungle floor at more than 500 km/h.

Authorities said no one likely survived the crash of Gol airlines Flight 1907, which would make it Brazil's worst air disaster.

Rescue teams reached the crash zone in the state of Mato Grosso hours after air force helicopter pilots found it Saturday, but "so far it is impossible to confirm the existence of survivors in the area," according to a joint statement by the airport authority, the air force and the Civil Aviation Agency.

The wreckage was concentrated in a single area, indicating the aircraft went down nose first, Jose Carlos Pereira, president of Brazil's airport authority, said Saturday.

"At that speed, it is highly unlikely any survivors will be found," he said.

Denise Abreu, one of the directors of the Brazilian Aviation Agency,said the plane crashed near a cattle ranch by the Xingu Indian reservation, 1,700 kilometres northwest of Sao Paulo.

The Boeing 737-800 left the Amazon city of Manaus on Friday afternoon and was scheduled to make a stop in Brasilia before reaching Rio de Janeiro.

Pereira said the plane and an executive jet may have collided before the crash, though that was still under investigation.

The flight between Manaus and Rio is popular with foreign tourists, but a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs saidSaturday there wereno Canadians on board.

Anxious wait for relatives

While the difficult rescue efforts went on, some 50 weary-eyed relatives and friends of the Gol airliner's passengers waited for news in a hotel lobby in the capital of Brasilia.

"The worst thing of all is not knowing how it happened and why it happened," said Carmelita Meira, the 70-year-old grandmother of one of the passengers.

Gol, the second largest airline in Brazil, said in a statement the aircraft involved was new andhad only come into service this month.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared three days of national mourning for the crash, which comes just ahead of Brazil's presidential elections on Sunday.

With files from the Associated Press

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