Authorities Say No Survivors in Brazilian Plane Crash

Authorities said Sunday there were no survivors among the 155 people aboard the Brazilian jetliner that crashed deep in the Amazon jungle, as rescue workers began to pull bodies out of the twisted wreckage.

The Boeing 737-800 apparently clipped a smaller executive jet midair Friday, crashing in jungle so dense that crews had to cut down trees Saturday to clear a space for rescue helicopters to land. The smaller plane — carrying Americans — safely landed at a nearby air force base.

CountryWatch: Brazil

The Brazilian air force said in a statement that rescue workers had combed through the wreckage and found no signs that anyone could have survived the crash. Rescue workers had recovered two bodies by Sunday night and airlifted them out by helicopter, the statement said.

Gol airlines, which operated the flight, confirmed there were no survivors in its own release.

About 30 Brazilian air force troops were at the site late Sunday looking for more bodies.

"It's extremely difficult to get there," said Ademir Ribeiro, a foreman on the nearby Jarina ranch, the center for rescue operations. The ranch was located in the central state of Mato Grosso, some 1,090 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro.

Celio Wilson de Oliveira, the Mato Grosso state Secretary of Justice and Public Safety, said the commercial plane crashed near a reservation of the Kayapo Capoto-Jarina Indians in Xingu Park, and Indians with machetes had helped hack a path to the crash site.

But Ribeiro said rescue workers were keeping everyone away from the wreckage.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who appeared headed to a runoff in his bid for re-election Sunday, declared three days of official morning.

"Brazil is suffering with this. I believe it is the worst aviation accident ever in our country," Silva said in a statement. "We will ask God that our soldiers can find some survivors."

The list of passengers on the commercial jet was not released, and it wasn't clear if any foreigners were aboard.

The Globo news agency said Sunday that police questioned the seven passengers and crew aboard the executive jet, which had been headed to the United States. The passengers, all Americans, included Joe Sharkey, a journalist for the New York Times.

The seven said they felt a bump and the plane shake when Gol Flight 1907 clipped the smaller jet midair, Globo reported. The pilot then took manual control for the landing, the paper said.

If all 155 passengers and crew are dead, Friday's crash would be the worst in Brazilian history. Previously, the deadliest was the 1982 crash of a Boeing 727 operated by the now-defunct Vasp airline in the northeastern city of Fortaleza that killed 137 people.

The flight data recorder of the Legacy was flown to Sao Jose dos Campos, the base of aircraft manufacturer Embraer. The recorders of the 737 had not yet been recovered.

The crash was the first major disaster for Gol Linhas Aereas Intelligentes SA, a Brazilian airline that took to the skies in 2001 with six Boeing 737s, serving seven Brazilian cities. Gol said its jet had been delivered by Boeing Co. just three weeks ago, and had flown only 200 hours.