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Investigators Search for Clues to Plane Crash in Downtown Mexico City

August 1, 1986

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ The crash of a twin-engine plane at a busy downtown thoroughfare injured 16 people, one of them seriously, and one witness said the din sounded like a building had collapsed.

The cause of the Thursday afternoon crash was not known. The government news agency Notimex said it apparently was caused by mechanical failure.

An official at Mexico City International Airport, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Cessna 310 was on a flight from the Pacific Ocean resort of Puerto Vallarta and was trying to land at the airport when the crash occurred.

Witnesses said the plane’s wing grazed a five-story building, and that the aircraft then smashed into the roof of an adjacent two-story building before falling into Lazaro Cardenas Avenue.

The plane broke into three pieces.

″It was coming in very low and it was making no noise until it crashed,″ said Jose Luis Corona, his pants blood-stained from helping rescue victims.

Jose Santiago Mendoza, a clothing store employee, said: ″I heard a noise when it crashed. It sounded like a building falling.″

Capt. Miguel Gil Gaona of the airport command center said the results of the crash investigation would be available in about three weeks.

He said officials did not yet have a transcript of the conversations between the control tower and the plane, which he said was carrying five people.

Notimex said the pilot, Manuel Alverdi, 40, had not reported any problems to the control tower. The plane had enough fuel for the three-hour flight, the news agency said.

The airport official said the aircraft was based at a smaller airport in Toluca, 32 miles west of Mexico City.

The injured - the pilot, the co-pilot, one passenger and 13 passers-by - were taken to two city hospitals.

At Balbuena Hospital, a 46-year-old man was listed in very grave condition with head injuries, said hospital spokesman Francisco Javier Carballo. He said a 13-year-old boy suffered minor injuries.

At the Red Cross Hospital, 14 people, including a 1-year-old girl, were admitted, said social worker Carmen Reyes.

It was not immediately known which of the injured had been aboard the plane when it crashed.

Mexico City’s airport is at the eastern edge of the metropolitan area which has a population of about 18 million. It is surrounded by densely populated residential and commercial areas.

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