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Governor hails air crash 'miracle'

The governor of a Caribbean island said the survival of 130 people was a miracle after a Boeing 737 packed with holidaymakers crashed in a thunderstorm and broke apart on the runway.

Only one of the 131 people on board died in Monday's crash on Colombia's San Andres Island.

The jet crashed short of the runway and skidded on its belly as the fuselage fractured and bits of landing gear and at least one engine were ripped off.

The aircraft ended up on one end of the runway, crumpled and in pieces, as passengers scrambled or were helped to safety.

Of the 125 passengers and six crew members aboard the Aires airline jet, the only one killed was a 68-year-old woman, Amar Fernandez de Barreto, said San Andres governor Pedro Gallardo.

"It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God," Mr Gallardo said.

Officials were investigating a range of possible causes and looking into reports that Aires Flight 8520 was hit by lightning before the crash on the resort island, Colombian air force colonel David Barrero said.

Officials said 119 people were treated or checked at clinics and five of them were seriously injured.

The airline said at least five US citizens were on the plane, while the US embassy in Colombia said four Americans and one US permanent resident suffered injuries. Airline representative Erika Zarante said four Brazilians, two Germans, two Costa Ricans and two French citizens were also on the plane.

The accident happened so suddenly that the pilot did not report an emergency to the control tower, said Col Donald Tascon, deputy director of the civil aeronautics agency.

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