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Argentine Plane Crash in Patagonia Kills All 22 on Board

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- A twin-engine airplane operated by Argentina’s Sol Lineas Aereas SA crashed in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro last night, killing all 22 people aboard, the company said.

Sol flight 5428 was flying from the city of Neuquen to Comodoro Rivadavia when the pilot reported an emergency at 8:50 p.m. local time, Sol said in an e-mailed statement. That was the last communication between the airplane and controllers. Nineteen passengers, including one child, and three crew members were on board.

The airplane was a 34-seat Saab 340 model, Antonio Perdomenico, a Sol airport official, said in an interview with television channel Todo Noticias. Sol’s entire fleet is made up of Saab 340s, Perdomenico said. The plane was built by Stockholm-based Saab AB in 1985, company spokesman Peter Liander said in a telephone interview.

Saab made 459 of the propeller planes from 1984 to 1999 and they have had a total of four deadly crashes, Liander said.

“This is a very safe plane,” Liander said. “We don’t want to speculate about the cause of the accident.”

Connecting Oil Regions

Sol operates primarily domestic flights within Argentina and also flies to neighboring Uruguay. The flight between Comodoro Rivadavia and Neuquen connects Argentina’s two largest oil producing regions in the southern part of the country.

Argentina has had two major airplane accidents in the past two decades. A Lineas Aereas Argentinas Privadas SA flight crashed on takeoff at an airport in Buenos Aires in August 1999, killing 67. Two years earlier, 74 people died when an Austral Lineas Aereas plane crashed in Uruguayan territory shortly before the flight was due to land in Buenos Aires.

To contact the reporters on this story: Bill Faries in Buenos Aires at wfaries@bloomberg.net; Rodrigo Orihuela in Buenos Aires at rorihuela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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