A plane carrying more than 150 people crash-landed in a bog in eastern Bolivia last Friday after fierce storms turned it away from its destination and it tried to reach another airport hundreds of miles away, according to officials and news reports. All on board survived.
Photographs by local media showed the Lloyd Aereo Boliviano Boeing 727, in a flooded forest clearing, stripped of at least one wing. A set of landing gear was in the water nearby. "We noticed the engines went out, and there was this calm," Paolo Bravo, a Bolivian senator who was on board, told the radio network Erbol. "Then they told us, 'Crash positions! Crash positions!' and it was just another two or three seconds before we hit," he said. "I think you could call it a belly flop," Bravo added. "The plane fell, the wings broke off, but the fuselage was OK." The plane took off from the Bolivian capital, La Paz, but severe storms forced it to turn away from its destination in the northern city of Cobija. It then headed some 370 miles south to the eastern lowland city of Trinidad and was three miles short of the runway when the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing. The plane's original takeoff from La Paz had been delayed for an hour due to unspecified technical problems, said spokesman Abdon Porcel of the Superintendent of Transportation, a non-governmental agency demanding investigation into the crash. Airline spokesman Gustavo Viscarra said the cause was still under investigation. "It was the decision of the pilot to make a forced landing," he said. The airline's manager in Trinidad, Patricia Aruz, said no one was killed. Most of the passengers were taken to nearby hospitals for review and several were injured, Zambrano said. Viscarra said the plane was carrying 155 passengers but gave no figures for the number of crew. But Zambrano, citing the flight engineer, said the plane had only 154 seats but was carrying 159 passengers, along with nine crew members.