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Rescuers Search After Amazon Crash

March 30, 1998

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Rescuers found the bodies of five missionaries killed when their plane crashed into a mountain in southern Venezuela, the Florida-based New Tribes Mission said late Sunday.

Two Americans, two Canadians and a Venezuelan Indian affiliated with the religious group were on board the Cessna 207 that slammed Monday into Mount Marahuaca, about 190 miles southeast of Puerto Ayacucho.

A rescue team, including a former U.S. Navy SEAL who is now a missionary, landed on the mountaintop Saturday and inched down the mountain until they reached the crash site Sunday.

``Please thank God for the closure the families now have, and pray for the families and friends of the five,″ the Sanford, Fla.-based New Tribes Mission said in a statement.

The crash site outside the village of Toqui had been spotted during several flyovers by pilots but its rocky location, remoteness and weather conditions had delayed rescue efforts.

Clouds, wind and smoke from wildfires burning out of control in neighboring Brazil prevented rescue workers from landing on the mountaintop earlier. Two other teams that were trying to climb the mountain from its base were forced to give up.

New Tribes identified the aircraft’s pilot as Rick Burd, 45, of York, Pa. The passengers were Tim Stucky, 15, of Newton, Kan.; Bob McCormick, 60, and his wife Ida, 56, of White Horse, Yukon Territory; and Freida Lopez, a Maquiritare Indian.

New Tribes has worked in Venezuela for several decades with Indians including the Yanomami, one of the world’s last Stone Age tribes.

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