All 46 people on board died when a Venezuelan passenger plane slammed into the sheer face of a foggy Andean mountain after veering off course after takeoff, officials said on Friday.
Rescuers rappelled from helicopters to search for remains in the shattered wreckage lodged 13,000 feet above sea level on a craggy, rock wall known as "Indian Face."
The blue-and-white tail of the twin-engine plane rested on the mountainside, which was charred by flames. Pieces of white fuselage and other remains from the crash littered the area, images from a video shot by searchers showed.
"It makes your heart ache. Venezuela is in mourning," President Hugo Chavez said in a televised speech.
Relatives and friends of the victims gathered in tears, some of them embracing, at the airports of Merida and Caracas.
“We join in the profound pain of all the relatives of our passengers and co-workers,” the airline said, pledging to co-operate fully with investigators.
Aircraft manufacturer ATR, based in Toulouse, France, said specialists from the company and the French Accident Bureau were leaving immediately to assist in a probe. (Reuters & AP)
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