Transcribed from St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, FL, July 12, 1973, p. 1:
Brazilian Jetliner Crashes Near Paris, Killing 124
Witness helped survivors, 17-A
By JOHN VINOCUR
PARIS (AP) — A Brazillian jetliner crashed in flames six miles short of Orly Airport Thursday, killing 124 of the 131 persons aboard, authorities said.
Authorities said all of the 119 passengers and five of the 12 crewmembers were killed and that all of the bodies were found in the burned-out remains of the aircraft.
THE PLANE, a Varig Airlines Boeing 707, radioed an SOS fire report to the control tower seconds before it plowed into an onion patch in suburban Sauix-les-Chartreux.
The seven surviving crewmembers included the pilot, Capt. Gilberto da Silva, and a hostess, Andrea Piha. Three of the survivors were reported in critical condition.
The plane flew from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with stops in Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon, Portugal. Officials said most of the dead were victims of the fire, rather than the crash.
THE DEAD INCLUDED Filinto Muller, president of Brazil’s Arena party, which represents the nation’s ruling military. He was also president of the Brazilian Senate.
Authorities said apparently none of the dead was American.
The plane was just six miles short of its destination at Orly after the 6,000-mile flight from Brazil.
“A MINUTE and a half more and the Boeing could have landed in safety, perhaps saving all the passengers,” said Jean-Francois Frerot, the control tower chief at Orly.
The wingtips and four engines were ripped off when the plane crashed. Flames spilling from the aircraft prevented farmhands from getting near the wreckage to rescue those inside.
The pilot’s call to the Orly control tower, announcing “fire on board,” came after Flight 820 reported engine trouble, airport spokesmen said. An alert was sounded, but was almost immediately supplanted by a full-scale crash warning when the pilot radioed moments later that his plane was aflame.
THE AIRPORT said the pilot asked for permission to crash-land and was told to make a wrong-way landing on a take-off strip.
The runway was cleared, but the jetliner never reached Orly. The French national police said it crashed on its belly slightly less than 15 minutes after the first report of trouble.