July 19, 2007

Prosecutors call for closure of San Paulo airport after crash

The Sao Paulo's domestic airport will immediate closure because of the country's worst air disaster. The passenger plane was forced to abort its landing too.

The Sao Paulo's governor, Jose Serra, as reported in Guardian Unlimited admitted that the volume of air traffic at Congonhas, Brazil's busiest airport, needed to be drastically reduced following Tuesday night's accident, in which a plane belonging to Brazil's TAM airline veered off the runway, hit a nearby warehouse and exploded, killing all 186 people on board and three on the ground.

Video footage of the landing appeared to show Flight 3054 accelerating as it hit the notoriously short runway. Authorities said they believed the pilot had been trying abort his landing and take off again just before impact.

Rescue workers were forced to suspend the search for victims because of fears that the building at the crash scene was about to collapse. By early this morning, when the search was interrupted, authorities had confirmed 183 deaths. Fire chief Nilton Miranda told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper he expected to find at least 20 more bodies inside of the warehouse. Four Europeans citizens, three from France and one from Portugal, were reportedly among those onboard the flight from the southern city of Porto Alegre.

Congonhas airport is renowned for its short runways. Pilots are instructed to touch down within the first 1,000ft (300m), or pull up and circle round again. Yesterday, another TAM airline jet was rerouted to the city's international airport after coming in at an unsafe angle.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement: "It is necessary to temporarily paralyse the activities at the Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo until a complete renovation of both of its runways can be completed and there is certainty that they are fully secure for full operations." Shutting the airport would have knock-on effects on flights throughout Latin America.

Read the news release of this article's from the source at:
Guardian Unlimited

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