A cargo plane loaded with television sets and toys slammed into a heavily populated slum Tuesday, killing at least 21 people and reportedly injuring more than 200 on the outskirts of Brazil’s main commercial city.
Rescuers feared that many more people might be buried beneath rubble in the crowded area.
The plane, a Transbrasil Boeing 707, crashed outside of Sao Paulo International airport, first hitting a three-story building and then skidding into a hillside shantytown.
“We rescued a baby of about 6 months who was lying unharmed right near the burning wreckage,” firefighter Rogerio Ramos Marcelino told Reuters news agency.
Asked how the child survived, he said: “Only God knows.”
Doctors at the scene said the Transbrasil plane’s crew of three and at least 15 on the ground died in the crash. Television reports said that about 200 people were being treated in nearby hospitals, mostly for burns.
The plane smashed into a three-story building, leaving an engine and part of its left wing before coming to a stop several hundred yards away.
Earlier, airport officials said the plane had exploded in midair. Transbrasil officials said, however, that the plane had not exploded but had crashed into the building.
Survivor Paulo Sergio Oliveira de Queiroz said he escaped with facial cuts after the plane ripped the roof off the shed where he was working.
Oliveira, 19, said he had just made a telephone call. “Everything just fell on top of me. I ran out of the building and I saw a car burning and a lot of dust.”
Television reports said doctors performed an emergency Caesarean operation on a pregnant woman killed in the crash. The baby was born alive but apparently died shortly afterward.
Investigators at the scene said they had found the plane’s flight recorders.
Visibility was good when the plane crashed. Airport officials said earlier that the pilot had radioed the control tower demanding an emergency landing, but Transbrasil officials were unable to confirm that.
Boxes of television sets, radios and toys, some undamaged, lay on the ground. The plane was carrying 26 tons of goods from factories in a manufacturing zone set up in the Amazon town of Manaus to encourage investment and jobs in the region.