Survivors unlikely in fallen plane carrying Paraguay minister - official

Survivors unlikely in fallen plane carrying Paraguay minister - official
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By Daniela Desantis

ASUNCION (Reuters) - An airplane carrying Paraguayan Agriculture Minister Luis Gneiting fell to the ground shortly after taking off on Wednesday night, and survivors are unlikely, an official at the country's aviation authority told Reuters on Thursday.

A search and rescue team located the small, twin engine aircraft on Thursday morning six kilometres (3.73 miles) from the airport in the southern city of Ayolas, where the plane took off en route to capital Asuncion, Luis Aguirre, head of the National Civil Aviation Directorate told Reuters.

Aguirre said it was unlikely that any of the four passengers had survived, but said he did not have information yet since the rescue team had not yet reached the plane.

"The remains of the plane were found in a wetland. The tip of the tail is visible and the rest of the plane is underwater," Aguirre said. "Based on what we can see, and this is unofficial, there are no survivors."

Aguirre added that the plane was only in the air for two or three minutes and did not reach a high altitude before falling. Gneiting's vice minister for cattle, Vicente Ramirez, was also aboard the plane.

Gneiting, who took office two months ago, is a former governor of Itapua department, one of Paraguay's main soy producing regions.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis; editing by Jonathan Oatis; Writing by Luc Cohen and Scott Squires; Editing by Bill Trott and Susan Thomas)

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