Fifteen people were killed and dozens of passengers were taken to hospitals after a plane crash landed and burst into flames in eastern Venezuela.
"There are exactly 36 people who are, thanks to God, still among us and 15 people who died," Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel Gomez said on state television this evening.
The accident occurred at 9:50 a.m. as the ATR-42 turboprop operated by state airline Conviasa was nearing its destination of Ciudad Guayana, 330 miles southeast of Caracas, after having taken off from Margarita Island. The pilot reported he was having problems controlling the turboprop before the crash, according to the regional disaster response chief, Jose Garcia, Bloomberg reports.
In a statement, President Hugo Chavez lamented the crash and sent his condolences to relatives of the victims.
"All Venezuelans are mourning, full of sorrow and tears as a result of this tragedy," Chavez wrote.
Chavez praised rescue teams and Sidor workers for saving injured passengers. The socialist leader said the government is investigating to "clarify the causes of this very lamentable incident", The Associated Press informs.