Venezuela Plane Crashes; 36 People Rescued

A twin-engine turboprop owned by state airline Conviasa crashed Monday just a few minutes before it was to land at the Puerto Ordaz airport in Venezuela, killing 12 passengers and three crew members.

Authorities said the Conviasa Flight 2350 came from the Caribbean tourist island of Margarita and was several minutes from landing when it crashed in a steel foundry in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. Foundry workers and rescuers immediately responded to the scene, allowing them to save 36 of the 51 people on board the French-built ATR 42.

President Hugo Chavez immediately sent his condolences to the families of the victims, saying in a statement that “all Venezuelans are mourning, full of sorrow and tears as a result of this tragedy.”

Investigators have yet to pin point the cause of the crash, but authorities say the pilot had reported to traffic controllers that something was wrong with the plane before the crash occurred.