Source AP ©

Passangers of plane crashing in Peru try to persuade pilot not to take off in thunderstorm

Passengers on a flight that crashed in Peru's northeastern jungle tried to persuade the air force pilot not to take off in a thunderstorm. At least 13 people died, including a 93-year-old woman.

Juan Saavedra told the Peru21 newspaper that the pilot asked passengers to calm down and assured them that nothing would happen because they were traveling in a war plane.

The Twin Otter plane crashed in a mountainous jungle 560 kilometers (350 miles) northeast of Lima on Thursday afternoon, officials said.

Saavedra said immediately after takeoff the pilot appeared to struggle with strong wind gusts before the plane dropped and flew between two trees that cut off its wings.

Another survivor told Peru21 that he heard the pilot give an order to turn off the engine ahead of the crash, possibly to avoid a fire.

Regional officials originally said there were 20 people aboard the plane about the capacity of many Twin Otters. Police reported seven survivors, while the ministry originally said eight. The Defense Ministry had not released the passenger list or an official report on the crash by Sunday.

The plane was part of an air force program helping small jungle communities not served by commercial flights.

Ivan Vasquez, president of the Loreto region where the government flight originated said that 13 bodies were recovered from the crash site on Saturday.

Among them was Maria Luisa Armas, the oldest resident of the jungle town of Contamana, the flight's next scheduled stop, El Comercio newspaper reported Sunday.

Survivors said that the 93-year-old woman told them to search for help and leave her at the crash site.

"You are young. Look for help and come back for me," survivors quoted her as saying. When they came back, she had died.

Her relatives said that she wanted "many people to come to her funeral and that there be no sadness."

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