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At least 60 dead from crash of cargo plane

By JORGE RIBADENEIRA

QUITO, Ecuador -- Rescuers have unearthed another 10 bodies from beneath the dirt and concrete that was their homes, raising to 60 the number of confirmed dead from the crash of a cargo plane which slammed into a residential district, officials said.

They said workers used heavy equipment Wednesday to remove hundreds of tons of rubble created by the destruction of at least eight homes in the crash of the Aerolineas Ecuatorianas de Cargo DC-8 Tuesday, seconds after takeoff from Mariscal Sucre Airport.

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An official said 10 bodies were unearthed Wednesday from a 150-square-yard area that was destroyed by the impact of the plane. He said workers would continue to search through the rubble for more bodies.

The four crew members and at least 56 people on the ground were killed in the tragedy. At least 50 people were hospitalized, including an unspecified number who are in critical condition.

All the dead have been identified.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Rosario residential area only 300 yards north of the airport to watch the unearthing of victims, many of them gasping each time a body was removed from the rubble.

President Leon Febres Cordero, who declared three days of national mourning for the dead, called for a thorough investigation of the crash.

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Aeronautical officials have issued a preliminary ruling that the aircraft crashed when one of the four engines malfunctioned.

Witnesses said the plane only rose about 80 feet before hitting a utility pole. It then broke into three fiery parts and slammed into an empty church and a three-story house under construction.

One official said 20 of the dead were members of a 40-man work crew that was building the three-story house.

The AECA plane had just arrived from Miami and was making a routine stop in Quito before proceeding to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city located on the Pacific coast 200 miles away.

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