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Cargo Plane Crashes Into Louisiana Swamps

July 21, 1988 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A cargo plane with a crew of three ran low on fuel and crashed Wednesday night into south Louisiana swamps near the Gulf of Mexico, authorities said. Authorities said there were apparently no survivors.

The DC-6 chartered by TACA International Airlines was on a flight from San Salvador, El Salvador, to New Orleans with 22,000 pounds of handicrafts, seafood, plants, electronics and other cargo, said Gary Mascaro, TACA’s cargo manager at New Orleans International Airport.

Mascaro said TACA had leased the four-engine, prop-driven plane from Fiorella Crew Inc. and that the men aboard were Fiorella employees.

The plane hit a levee and crashed into a drainage canal about 300 to 400 yards west of Louisiana Highway 1 just south of Golden Meadow, about 40 miles south of New Orleans, said Duffy Breaux, sheriff of Lafourche Parish.

The Coast Guard sent a jet, helicopter and boats to the area, said Lt. Bruce Campbell in New Orleans.

″... They found a great deal of wreckage just alongside Bayou Lafourche, right alongside a roadway. He (the pilot) may have tried to land on the roadway and slid off,″ Campbell said.

″So far, we’ve not found anybody and don’t expect to,″ he said.

The search was suspended late Wednesday but was to resume when Federal Aviation Administration investigators arrive at daybreak Thursday, said Breaux.

″We didn’t see any survivors, and it’s pretty deep canal with about 15 feet of water,″ he said. ″The plane was submerged, with only its wings still sticking up. There apparently were no survivors, but you never know.″

An FAA air traffic controller who asked not to be identified said the plane’s pilot reported at 7:20 p.m. that he had just 15 minutes of fuel remaining, that he would be unable to reach New Orleans and needed to find a closer airfield.

The nearest field, north of Grand Isle at Fouchon, had a 3,000-foot runway but the DC-6 needed 5,000 feet and its pilot decided to ditch, the FAA spokesman said.

TACA is a Central American airline, based in El Salvador, with offices in New Orleans.

It was the second time this year that a TACA flight was forced down short of New rleans International Airport.

On May 24, a TACA jet with 41 people aboard experienced engine trouble during a violent thunderstorm and its pilot made an emergency landing on a grassy strip of land in swampy eastern New Orleans. No one was injured in that incident.