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Small Plane Crashes in Costa Rica

August 27, 2000

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ About 200 rescue workers climbed the mile-high Arenal volcano Sunday after rescue planes spotted the wreckage of a small aircraft that went down the day before with two pilots and eight foreign passengers on board.

Rescuers had not yet arrived at the site, but authorities flying overhead saw no signs of survivors, said Jorge Jimenez, spokesman for the Red Cross, which is organizing rescue efforts. Previous reports said emergency flares were fired in the area.

The 15-seat Caravan plane, operated by the company National Aerial Services, or Sansa, was flying between the northern region of La Fortuna, where the volcano is located, and Tamarindo, a beach town on the Pacific coast, when air traffic controllers lost contact about 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

On board were the pilot, Karl Acevedo Nevermann, co-pilot William Bobadilla, both from Costa Rica, and eight foreign tourists.

The plane originated in the capital, San Jose, at 12:15 p.m., stopping briefly in the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, in La Fortuna, where Japanese passenger Masaru Hamatani, 52, got off, officials said.

Neither rescue officials nor Sansa would release any information on the nationalities of the other passengers Sunday, saying they were waiting until their fate was known.

Jimenez said the destroyed plane was spotted 330 feet beneath the crater of the Arenal volcano, located 60 miles north of San Jose, the capital.

The crash site was in an area that normally takes about three hours to reach by foot from the nearest village, Jimenez said. He said the trek was made more difficult Sunday because the area was still littered with hot lava and rocks from an eruption of the volcano last Wednesday.

Rescue workers on Saturday climbed the nearby Chato mountain after receiving an emergency signal from the plane that seemed to be coming from that area. They changed their route Sunday after rescue planes spotted the wreckage on the volcano.

Saturday’s crash was apparently the second deadly encounter in less than a week with the 5,360-foot Arenal volcano. A tour guide died on Thursday from injuries suffered while hiking when the volcano erupted.

A Boston woman and her daughter hiking with the guide were burned by the falling lava and rocks and flown to a hospital in Texas for treatment. The volcano has been active since 1968.