Date: October 10th, 1997
Type: DC-9-32
Registration: LV-WEG
Operator: Austial Líneas Aéreas
Flight: AU2553
Where: Nuevo Berlin, Uruguay
Report No.: Not Available
Report Date: -
Pages: -

This is not an accident investigation report.

An Argentine Austral airliner crashed into a swamp in neighboring Uruguay late on Friday after a heavy thunderstorm, killing all 5 crew + 68 passengers on board.

Flight 2553 took off from Posadas at 20.20h for an internal flight to Buenos Aires-Aeroparque. The aircraft encountered bad weather en route with Cumulonimbus clouds (reportedly topping at 15,000m) and an outside air temperature of -59deg. C and windshear conditions with winds at 80km/h.
Air traffic control lost contact with the plane late on Friday night as the pilot signalled he was going to alter his flight path to avoid a fierce thunderstorm at an altitude of 30000ft when radar contact was lost. The aircraft had apparently crashed in a swampland on the banks of the Uruguay River. The wreckage was found at 04.40h the next morning.

The plane was enroute to Buenos Aires from Posadas in north east Argentina.

Rescue teams dispatched to the area said there were no survivors after locating the wreck in the early hours of Saturday. ``A group of helicopters left for the area, where, logically there are no survivors,'' colonel Gadea of the Uruguayan Air Force told Uruguayan radio. The first eye witness reports said the plane was completely broken up with remains scattered in all directions in swampland some 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Uruguay's capital, Montevideo. Uruguayan radio reported that there were 66 adult passengers, three babies and five crew members on board the flight. ``There are no survivors,'' said Silvia Barrientes, the chief doctor at the hospital in the Uruguayan border town of Fray Bentos, 35 kilometres (21 miles) from where the plane went down, according to Argentine state news agency Telam.

``The teams of firemen, soldiers and doctors that arrived at the accident site sadly confirmed what we thought from the beginning,'' she said.

Argentina's air force, which sent helicopters to help rescue workers, said in a statement that Uruguayan authorities confirmed finding the wreckage at 04:40 local time (03:40 EDT/07:40 GMT).

It was not clear exactly when the airplane crashed but air traffic control lost contact with the plane around 10:30 p.m. on Friday (9:30 p.m. EDT) (0130 GMT on Saturday).