Rio declares three days of mourning

The "marvellous" city, as Rio de Janeiro likes to be known, was a city grieving last night. Anguished friends and relatives gathered at Terminal 2 of Rio's international airport, awaiting news. The Mayor, Eduardo Paes, was among those who lost friends. "I don't think that there's any hope left really for any of us who are waiting here for news," he said.

The French company Michelin had three members of staff on board including the company's South American president Luis Roberto Anastacio. The governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Sergio Cabral, has declared three days of mourning. Eighty of the passengers were Brazilian and 73 French.

Gil Le Bachelet, 38 was very nearly among those who died. Mr Le Bachelet changed his mind about taking the flight three days ago. However, a friend of his who came to visit was among those on board. "I know I am very lucky, but I'm not thinking about that. I can only think of my friend who died and all the other passengers who lost their lives."

A 70-strong team of psychologists and doctors were looking after distraught families. This is Brazil's third major aviation disaster in just four years.

In 2006, 154 people were killed when a Gol passenger jet collided with a private plane over the Amazon. Ten months later, in July 2007, 199 people died when a TAM jet crashed into a building at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport after coming off the runway on landing.

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