LIMA, Peru – A Peruvian airliner crashed near a city in the jungle Tuesday, killing at least 37 people and injuring about 40, a provincial official said.
The Boeing 737 with 100 people aboard went down near the Pucallpa municipal airport (search) at 3:12 p.m., Norma Pasquel, a Pucallpa airport receptionist, told The Associated Press.
Prior to the crash, the pilot told the airport tower that heavy winds and rains were preventing him from landing, Pasquel said. The plane flew in circles around the airport until it tried to land on a nearby highway that ran through the jungle.
While officials and Peruvian media were reporting dozens of deaths, an airline spokesman said there was still no confirmation on the death toll.
Berta Garcia, a secretary at Pucallpa's municipal hospital, told Radioprogramas that five bodies — those of four adults and a small boy — had been brought there. Pucallpa is located 305 miles northeast of the capital, Lima (search).
In a brief statement faxed to The Associated Press, TANS Peru, a military-operated airline, said that there had been several people killed and injured because of an emergency landing. The statement provided no further details.
Transportation Minister Jose Ortiz told CPN radio that the plane carried 92 passengers and eight crew members.
"We are standing next to the cabin and we can see the body and it appears that it is a flight attendant in her uniform. We can also see a person who appears to be a female," a correspondent for Radioprogramas radio said. "There are bodies of children. Many bodies."
A man identifying himself as William Zea, a passenger on the plane, told CPN radio by telephone that the plane was traveling on a route from Lima to Pucallpa, and from there onto the northern jungle city of Iquitos when "the plane suffered some malfunction and we went down."
"There are more than 20 people injured, some of them with burns, as well as fractures," he said.
Tomas Ruiz, another passenger, told Radioprogramas: "It seems it was a matter of the weather. Ten minutes before we were to land in Pucallpa, the plane began to shake a lot."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.