December 21, 2014
Plane crashes into River Plate, five killed
Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the accident that left four injured
Investigators are trying to piece together information to figure out why a Beechcraft turboprop travelling from San Fernando to Carmelo in Uruguay yesterday crashed into the River Plate, leaving five dead and four injured. Two of those injured were being treated in Argentine hospitals after being evacuated to San Fernando.
San Fernando is home to the main airport for light aircraft in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
Security Secretary Sergio Berni yesterday confirmed that search and rescue operations had concluded but that any theories about the causes of the crash “are mere speculation and are not useful in any way.”
Instead, he emphasized that the government is providing support to the family members of the victims and acting as an intermediary for the family members with Uruguayan authorities. The corpses are expected to be transported back to Argentina today.
There are conflicting reports about when the flight took off but Uruguayan media claimed yesterday that official Uruguayan sources reported a distress call announcing the crash was received at 2pm.
The plane should have taken only 15 to 20 minutes to travel the approximately 60 kilometres between San Fernando and Carmelo. The plane crashed approximately 10 kilometres southwest of Carmelo. Berni did add that “experience suggests the engine failed and that the plane hit the ground with the engine first” and that there had been thick fog in the area.
Images of the crash site showed the plane in extremely shallow water with a broken tail and extensive damage to the nose and wingtips. Apart from the tail, the fuselage itself appeared relatively intact.
Links to Kosiuko
The plane belonged to Federico Bonomi, business leader and owner of clothing company Kosiuko, who confirmed from the United States that his regular pilot, Leandro Larriera, was at the controls at the time of the crash and was killed. Bonomi considered that Larriera “was a great pilot known by everyone in San Fernando” and that he had a great deal of experience and that he constantly sought out opportunities for further training.
Bonomi also confirmed that one of the passengers, Sebastián Vivona, is commercial manager for Kosiuko. Vivona was believed to be in serious condition in a hospital in Colonia along with Paula Buery, an event organizer for the TTS Viajes travel agency.
Ignacio Llosa and Santiago Villamil were being treated for relatively minor injuries in private clinics in Argentina.
As such, the dead would include Gustavo Fosco, public affairs director for Renault, Fernando Sánchez head of external communications for Renault, Facundo Alecha, Fernando Lonigro, a manager at the TTS travel agency, and the pilot Leandro Larriera.
Bonomi speculated that one of the possible reasons for the trip to Carmelo may have been exploring business opportunities involving the Casa Chic hotel that Kosiuko operates in Carmelo.
The flight was also duly registered with Argentine immigration authorities, which received a passenger manifest and the plane’s registration details.
Search and rescue operations were conducted jointly by the Argentine and Uruguayan prefecture and navy, and Security Secretary Berni emphasized that “cooperation” between the two countries has been fluid. Uruguayan Navy spokesperson Gastón Jaunsolo was in fact the first to confirm the accident’s death toll to Argentine media.
Members of the Argentine and Uruguayan air force were also involved with the rescue efforts, which involved helicopters and the use of specialized rescue boats. Dramatic footage of survivors being hoisted up to a helicopter featured prominently on television news channels yesterday.
More cooperation is expected to be required as the civil investigation into the crash begins in earnest and looking ahead to the possible transfer of the injured to Argentina from Carmelo.
Industry analysts yesterday uniformly lauded the model of the plane involved, a Beechcraft B200 double turboprop, as one of the safest and most reliable of its kind in the private plane market.
Bonomi emphasized that the plane had received regular maintenance and that it was in good condition.
Herald staff with DyN, Télam, online media