Four Dead in Paraguay Plane Crash

Photo from World Atlas

Paraguay Agriculture Minister Luis Gneiting and three others died when the twin engine airplane carrying them to the capital Asuncion crashed into a wetland on Wednesday night, an official told reporters today, July 26, Reuters reports.

Civil Aeronautics official Ruben Aguilar says the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron went down in a marshy area shortly after taking off from the airport in Ayolas, some 235 miles or 380 kilometers from Asuncion.

A search and rescue team located the small aircraft on Thursday morning six kilometers or 3.73 miles from the airport in Ayolas, Luis Aguirre, head of the National Civil Aviation Directorate told Reuters.

“The remains of the plane were found in a wetland. The tip of the tail is visible and the rest of the plane is underwater,” Aguirre said. He added that the plane was only in the air for two or three minutes and did not reach a high altitude before falling.

Agriculture Minister Luis Gneiting, Vice Minister for cattle Vicente Ramirez, the pilot and co-pilot died in the crash. The pilot, Gerardo López, was a former agriculture vice-minister.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the deaths of four people on a flight that had an accident,” said Joaquin Roa, the head of the National Emergency Secretariat, adding that emergency workers were trying to recover the bodies and that the aircraft was “totally disintegrated.”

Gneiting, who took office two months ago, is a former governor of Itapua department, one of Paraguay’s main soy producing regions.

Aguilar says that investigators will begin trying to determine the cause of the crash and the reason why an emergency beacon failed to activate, a factor that apparently slowed rescue efforts.

“All of Pagaguay is in mourning over this accident,” said President-elect Mario Abdo, who will take office on Aug. 15.