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Mozambique Airlines plane crashes in Namibia, killing 33

By Servaas van den Bosch

WINDHOEK (Reuters) - A Mozambique Airlines plane en route to Angola crashed in a game park in northeast Namibia, killing all 33 people on board, Namibian police said on Saturday.

Flight TM 470 left Maputo on Friday for the Angolan capital Luanda with 27 passengers and six crew when it lost contact with air traffic controllers, the national carrier said in a statement.

Namibian Police Force Deputy Commissioner Willy Bampton said rescue workers had found the burned-out wreckage of the aircraft in the dense bush of Bwabwata National Park, near the borders with Angola and Botswana.

"The plane has been completely burned to ashes and there are no survivors," Bampton said.

A Bwabwata game ranger at the scene said the plane's black boxes, including the voice recorder, had been located and taken by investigators.

"The bodies are scattered all over the place. It's a horrible sight," said the ranger, who identified himself only by his surname, Shinonge.

The remote, 6,100 sq km (2,300 sq mile) park is home to wildlife including elephants, lions and wild dogs.

Mozambican officials said there had been bad weather and poor visibility at the time the plane, an Embraer 190, went missing.

The flight left the Mozambican capital Maputo at 11:26 a.m. (0426 GMT) on Friday and was due to land in Luanda almost four hours later.

Namibia's aircraft investigation unit launched a helicopter search for the plane on Friday but called it off because of heavy rain, an investigator said, adding the search had resumed on Saturday.

Brazil's Embraer SA said in a statement that the plane had been delivered to Mozambique Airlines in November 2012. It said it was sending its own technicians to the crash site.

In a statement on its website, Mozambique Airlines listed the nationalities of the 27 passengers on Flight TM470 as 10 Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French, one Brazilian and one Chinese. It had earlier said there were 28 passengers on board.

(Additional reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg, Manuel Mucari in Maputo and Brad Haynes in Sao Paulo; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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