Twenty-three survive Venezuela plane crash

A plane owned by Venezuela's state-run airline Conviasa crashed yesterday during a domestic flight with about 50 people on board, but at least 23 survived.

The ATR-42 twin-turboprop was en route from the Caribbean island of Margarita to the southern industrial city of Puerto Ordaz when it came down. "We still don't know the exact cause," local governor Francisco Rangel Gomez told state television, adding that the pilot had radioed warning the plane was in difficulty.

A Reuters witness at a hospital in Puerto Ordaz said 30 survivors – and two corpses – had been brought in from the crash site where wreckage was still smoldering after the mid-morning accident.

Mr Gomez put the number of survivors at at least 23. He said 51 people were on the Conviasa flight, while Transport Minister Francisco Garces earlier said 47 were on board.

Officials said the plane crashed on land belonging to Sidor, a state-run steel foundry, which has a large mill near Ciudad Guayana, but without causing any injuries or damage. "The plane fell on a waste area where they put barrels of unused steel materials," Mr Gomez said.

In the last major air crash in Venezuela, in 2008, a plane belonging to the private airline Santa Barbara crashed in the Andes, killing all 46 passengers. REUTERS