Mexico: Plane Crash : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


MERIDA, Mexico (AP) -- A plane carrying 16 Seattle-area tourists and three Mexican crew members crashed following a visit to Mayan ruins in the state of Yucatan on Wednesday. All aboard died.

The sightseeing visit to Chichen Itza was a side trip on a seven-day Caribbean cruise aboard the Maasdam for fans of the University of Washington Huskies football team, according cruise ship operator Holland America Line.

The fans had planned to arrive in Florida to attend the Huskies' scheduled Saturday game against Miami at the Orange Bowl, the Seattle-based cruise line said in a statement. The Washington-Miami game was postponed after Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Holland America said it was not releasing the victims' names pending notification of relatives.

"This is a terrible tragedy for the loved ones and friends and our entire community," said A. Kirk Lanterman, the line's chairman.

Fernando Vargas, director general of the Aero Ferinco airline, said the twin-engine LET 410 with 16 passengers, a Mexican guide and two pilots crashed shortly about 5 p.m. near the village of Tinum shortly after taking off from Chichen Itza on a 40-minute return trip to Cozumel.

"There were no indications of an emergency," Vargas said.

The plane was flying at about 500 feet when it began turning onto a course requested by the air traffic controller, he added. "It did not stop turning" and suddenly plunged to the ground.

"We don't know what happened," Vargas said, though Mexican federal aviation officials were investigating.

Vargas said pilot Jose Luis Romero had 7,100 hours flying time and co-pilot Aurelio Perez Escalante more than 1,000.

The administrator of the Chichen Itza airport, Eduardo Alfaro de la Torre, told the government news agency Notimex that the pilot of the plane had not radioed for help before the accident.

-- Rachel Gibson (, September 14, 2001

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