5 Americans Die In Guatemala Plane Crash

Rescue workers help Sarah Jensen, from Amery, Wisconsin, who survived a plane crash, as she arrives to an Air Force base in Guatemala City, Aug. 24, 2008 AP Photo/Moises Castillo

The pilot of a small plane carrying humanitarian workers called in engine trouble about 45 minutes before crashing in a field in eastern Guatemala, killing 10 people, including five Americans.

The Cessna Caravan crashed about 60 miles east of Guatemala City on Sunday and the burned wreckage of the plane was scattered along the edge of a barren field lined with palm trees, an aviation official and a survivor said.

The pilot tried to make an emergency landing, Civil Aviation director Jose Carlos said. Eight passengers were killed, along with the Guatemalan pilot and co-pilot, he said.

Carlos said five of the passengers killed were Americans, but the nationalities of the other three had not been determined. Four other Americans on board were injured and were being airlifted to a hospital in the capital.

Sarah Jensen, a 19-year-old who survived the crash with minor cuts and bruises, said she and her family were headed to a village in the area of El Estor to build homes for CHOICE Humanitarian, a group based in West Jordan, Utah.

Her brother and father were killed in the crash, and her mother had serious burns and contusions. The family is from Amery, Wisc., Jensen told The Associated Press in a brief interview at the hospital.

It was unclear if the other Americans were also with CHOICE Humanitarian. The group did not return calls Sunday afternoon.

Aero Ruta Maya, the airline operating the plane, said only 12 people were on the plane, including the pilots, a discrepancy that could not immediately be resolved.

Joanne de Bickford, who said she was the daughter of the airline's owner and was helping manage the crisis, confirmed there were Americans on board. She said the airline did not know how many people died.

The army provided a list of passengers, but the names appeared to be garbled. The U.S. Embassy did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
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