Rescuers Search for Missing Plane
LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador (AP) _ Rescuers on foot and in helicopters searched Ecuador’s rugged jungles Friday for a missing plane that was carrying 26 workers from Ecuador’s state-owned oil company.
The twin-engine propeller plane lost contact Thursday morning while it was headed from Quito to this oil outpost in the Amazon jungle, 110 miles northeast of the capital.
All 21 passengers and five crew members on board were Ecuadorean, Petroecuador said.
Air Force Col. Humberto Andrade, who is directing the search operation, said an emergency radio signal had been detected Friday coming from a hill in Colombian territory along a river that divides the two countries.
The plane is believed to have lost radio contact near the Ecuadorean town of Lumbaqui, about 30 miles southeast of the border area and 35 miles west of Lago Agrio.
Farmers in the area told The Associated Press they saw a plane that matched the missing one’s description flying nearby a few minutes before the Petroecuador aircraft lost contact.
``The plane was flying low. We thought it was going to crash,″ said Ramiro Acosta, 30, from the town of Pueblo Libre, about 12 miles northwest from Lumbaqui.
Foot patrols and three helicopters were combing the wooded area crisscrossed with streams and hills.