Plane carrying 176 crashes in Brazil; no survivors likely

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SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) – A passenger jet crashed and burst into flames after skidding off a runway at Brazil’s busiest airport Tuesday and barreling across a highway, officials said. All 176 people on board were feared dead in what would be Brazil’s deadliest air disaster, and at least 15 people were killed on the ground.

The death toll officially stood at 40 after the crash of the Airbus-320 owned by TAM airlines, but that number was expected to rise sharply as rescue workers, forensic experts and doctors scoured the wreckage in South America’s largest city.

The crash happened in a driving rain on a runway at Congonhas airport that had been criticized in the past for being too short. The TAM Airlines jet slammed into a gas station and a building owned by the airline, said Jose Leonardi Mota, a spokesman with airport authority Infraero.

Authorities announced early today that they had recovered 25 charred bodies from what was left of the plane and that 15 people who were on the ground either died at the scene or in hospitals.

Ten more people on ground were injured and hospitalized, according to a Sao Paulo state public safety media official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.

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