Mechanical Failure, Diversion Results In Off-Field
A chartered jetliner
carrying over 150 people crash-landed in eastern Bolivia on Friday,
when stormy weather forced it to turn away from its destination and
try for another airport. All onboard survived.
Photos from local media show a Boeing 727-200, flown by Lloyd
Aereo Boliviano airline (LAB), in a flooded forest clearing with at
least one wing sheared off and a set of landing gear in the water
nearby, according to The Associated Press.
The 727 took off from La Paz, the Bolivian capital, but
reportedly encountered fierce storms enroute to the northern city
of Cobija. It then diverted some 370 miles south to the eastern
lowland city of Trinidad, and was just three miles short of the
runway when it experienced an unspecified mechanical failure.
Bolivian senator Paolo Bravo was on board. "We noticed the
engines went out, and there was this calm," Bravo told the radio
network Erbol. "Then they told us, ‘Crash positions! Crash
positions!’ and it was just another two or three seconds
before we hit."
"I think you could call it a belly flop," Bravo added. "The
plane fell, the wings broke off, but the fuselage was okay."
The flight's original departure from La Paz was delayed for an
hour due to unspecified technical problems, said spokesman Abdon
Porcel of the Superintendent of Transportion, a non-governmental
agency demanding an investigation into the crash.
Airline spokesman Gustavo Viscarra said the cause was still
under investigation. "It was the decision of the pilot to make a
The flight engineer indicated the plane had only a 154 seats,
but was carrying 159 passengers, along with nine crew members. Most
of the passengers were taken to a nearby hospital for review, and
several were injured.
LAB was privatized in 1996, and has debt and bankruptcy problems
in the last few years. It currently runs a skeleton fleet of just
two aircraft on a charter basis.
The airline was operating this 727 as a charter for Transporte
Aereo Militar (TAM), another small Bolivian airline. TAM chartered
the LAB flights to carry overflow passengers during the heavy
Bolivian rainy season that has washed out many of the