Grim search for bodies after Brazilian plane crash


SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNN) -- Recovery workers picked through smoldering wreckage Wednesday, searching for victims of a fiery Brazilian plane crash that officials said left at least 200 people dead.

The TAM Airlines Airbus A320 was attempting to land in a driving rainstorm Tuesday night at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport when it struck an airline building and exploded into flames.

The airline said Wednesday that 186 people were on board the plane. It's unknown how many might have been inside the building, which served as a depot for TAM's express courier service.

Victims' loved ones were seen in the airport weeping and clutching each other in their grief brought on by the disaster, which has renewed lingering questions about the airport's runways.

Witnesses said the plane skidded across a major road during the city's rush hour.

"We saw the plane go straight down the runway," said witness Paulo Barros according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. "It didn't manage to stop and went into the avenue. It went by so fast that we thought it was taking off."

Authorities have ruled out any chance that anyone on board the airliner survived. It will be difficult to recover the bodies because of the massive destruction caused by intense fire that officials said reached 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 C).

Investigators will look into whether Brazilian aviation authorities rushed to reopen the airport's recently resurfaced runway, which had been closed for several weeks for repairs.

Flight JJ3054 was arriving at Sao Paulo's Congonhas Airport from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, the airline said. TAM Airlines said there were 186 people on board -- including 18 TAM employees, 6 crewmembers and 162 passengers.

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