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Bolivia plane carrying 159 crash lands

A charter Boeing 727 flown by Lloyd Aereo Boliviano crashes in a scrubby bog short of an airport near Trinidad.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2008 09:03 IST

A charter Boeing 727 flown by beleaguered airline Lloyd Aereo Boliviano crashed in a scrubby bog short of an airport near the eastern lowland city of Trinidad. Several injuries, but no deaths, were reported.

Passengers interviewed by local radio stations said the plane first lost power and then suffered serious damage when it landed yesterday.

Photographs showed the mud-spattered blue-and-orange LAB jet stripped of at least one wing and lying in a flooded clearing. A set of landing gear was in the water nearby.

The airline's regional manager in Trinidad, Patricia Aruz, said no one was killed, but most of the 159 passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for review, according to Juan Carlos Zambrano, a reporter on the scene for Radio Patuju.

A severe blow to the shoulder of the flight engineer appeared to be the day's worst injury, Zambrano said.

Turned away yesterday morning by fierce storms at its destination -- a small airport in the northern city of Cobija -- the plane headed south to Trinidad, some 590 kilometers away, only to lose power some three miles short of the runway, the flight engineer said.

"We noticed the engines went out, and there was this calm," said Paolo Bravo, a Bolivian senator who survived the crash, in an interview with the radio network Erbol.

"Then they told us, 'Crash positions! Crash positions!' and it was just another two or three seconds before we hit.

"I think you could call it a belly flop," Bravo continued. "The plane fell, the wings broke off, but the fuselage was OK."

LAB, Bolivia's former state airline, was privatized in 1996. The company now runs a skeleton fleet of only a handful of planes on a charter basis only.