Plane Carrying Americans Crashes in Mexico Jungle; 6 Killed

From Times Wire Services

Six passengers were killed when a plane carrying American tourists lost power in one engine and crash-landed in a remote jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexican officials said Saturday.

The Aerocozumel flight was returning Friday afternoon to the Caribbean resort island of Cozumel after taking the tourists to view ancient Indian ruins at Chichen Itza, about 115 miles inland.

The plane crashed at 3:30 p.m. just outside Playa del Carmen about 20 miles from the island of Cancun, the airline said. A federal police spokesman said the pilot had radioed the Cancun airport that he was having engine problems.

Sixteen of the 18 people aboard the plane were believed to be American tourists, said U.S. consul Bryant Salter.

Capt. Leonardo Tunchon of the Isla Mujeres naval sector, whose forces were coordinating the rescue, said six people were killed. A Red Cross official said the victims included two men and four women--apparently all Americans.

"As far as we know, 16 passengers listed in the manifest all had U.S. addresses, so we assume they're Americans," said Salter, U.S. consul in Merida, capital of Yucatan state. He refused to disclose passenger names until next of kin were notified.

In addition to the 16 tourists, the British-made Trislander aircraft carried a pilot and a tourist guide, Salter said. The Excelsior news agency said the aircraft, which was filled to capacity, lost power in one engine but was able to crash-land.

Diego Acosta, commander of the Red Cross in Cancun, said the jungle terrain hampered rescue operations, but authorities managed to airdrop food and medicine until army troops could reach the crash site.

Red Cross worker Josefina Cardiel said the plane crashed inside a ravine in thick jungle and troops had to clear a path to the site and then provide rappelling equipment so that rescue workers could reach the plane.

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