Eyewitness account of Brazil Plane Crash

Firefighters try to extinguish the fire at the crash site in Sao Paulo
Strong winds and rain have been hampering rescue efforts
Eyewitnesses have described how an airliner carrying 176 people crashed while landing at Congonhas airport in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

The TAM airlines Airbus A320 skidded off the end of the runway in wet conditions, crossed a major road and crashed into a four-storey fuel and cargo depot full of airport workers.

One woman was travelling in a car on the road when the plane skidded across, narrowly missing them.

"The plane passed in front of my taxi, the taxi stopped, and next to us the plane's wing hit the depot and the plane exploded - everything exploded, and everybody started running away," she told Brazil's Globo TV.

Luis Santos said the plane passed over his car at the level of the road's street lights.

"We could hear the engine noise getting louder and the plane growing in front of us," he told the Reuters news agency.

"When it hit the ground it exploded sending pieces all around."

Distraught relatives

A TAM employee, Elias Rodrigues Jesus, was walking near his company's depot when the plane slammed into it.

Relatives of the passengers demand information
Relatives of the passengers have been demanding information

"All of a sudden I heard a loud explosion, and the ground beneath my feet shook," he told the Associated Press.

"I looked up and I saw a huge ball of fire, and then I smelled the stench of kerosene and sulphur."

Many distraught relatives of passengers aboard the TAM flight later crowded around the airline's check-in desks at the airports in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, where it took off.

Lamir Buzzanelli, whose 41-year-old son Claudemir was one of the passengers, was among those waiting.

"I'm still waiting for the official list to come out, but my hopes are not too high because I've been calling him on his cell phone, and all I get is his voice mail," he told AP.

There has been no confirmation of casualties, but the state governor has said the chances of finding survivors are "practically nil".

The BBC's Gary Duffy in the city says the fires are still burning hours after the crash, with black smoke trailing off into the night sky.

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