BRASíLIA, Brazil -- Military helicopters lowered a rescue team by rope yesterday into the remote
The team had begun clearing dense vegetation near the wreckage site so a helicopter could land. However, a statement by aviation officials said ``so far it is impossible to confirm the existence of survivors in the area."
The president of Brazil's airport authority, José Carlos Pereira, said the
He said it was unlikely anyone on board the Gol flight from the jungle city of Manaus en route to Brasília and Rio de Janeiro survived when the plane struck the ground, traveling at more than 300 miles per hour. Nobody was injured on the smaller plane, which was carrying a
Air force helicopter pilots hovering over the crash site saw no signs of an intact fuselage and the debris appeared to cover only a small area.
``At that speed it is highly unlikely any survivors will be found," he said.
If no survivors are found, it would be the deadliest air accident in Brazil's history. In 1982, a Boeing 727 operated by Brazil's now-defunct Vasp airline crashed in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, killing 137 people.
The GOL flight wreckage was found near a cattle ranch, 1,090 miles northwest of Sao Paulo in the state of Mato Grosso. The manager of the 49,500-acre ranch said the plane may have crashed inside the neighboring Xingu Indian reservation.
``We heard a loud explosion and some of our employees saw a plane flying low," the ranch manager, Milton Picalho, said by phone. ``Judging from the direction the noise came from, I would say it crashed inside the reservation."
Pereira said the jetliner may have either collided with a Brazilian-made Legacy executive jet or the two aircraft may have grazed each other.
The smaller plane, which carries up to 16 passengers, was making its inaugural flight to the United States, where it had been purchased by a US company, said its manufacturer,