PUERTO ORDAZ, Venezuela A turboprop plane with 51 passengers and crew on board crashed into the yard of a steel mill in southern Venezuela and burst into flames on Monday, killing 15 people.
Authorities said 36 survivors were pulled from the wreckage of the French-built ATR-42 plane owned by Venezuela's state-run airline Conviasa.
The plane was flying from the Caribbean island of Margarita to the southern industrial city Puerto Ordaz when it came down near the gates of the vast Sidor mill on the banks of the Orinoco River.
Workers and firemen from the plant ran to the crash site and pulled passengers from the twisted and charred fuselage, one steel worker told state television.
"There was a miracle here today, we have 36 people who survived, with problems, but alive thank God, all of them treatable and many of them already in their homes," local governor Francisco Rangel Gomez said.
"The workers of Sidor are heroes, one of them even climbed on the plane and kicked his way in," he said in a news conference.
A nearby Puerto Ordaz hospital received injured people and bodies from the crash site. Hospital director Yanitza Rodriguez said many of the injuries were serious.
An official at the National Civil Aviation Institute said the pilot had radioed in a mayday signal seconds before the plane crashed.
"We presume (the accident) was caused by a failure in the airplane's controls," said the official, who asked not to be identified.
ATR, which makes 40-70 seat twin-engined turboprops, is a joint venture between Airbus parent company EADS and Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica.
French aviation investigators were due to arrive in Venezuela to visit the crash site later this week, Transport Minister Francisco Garces said.
President Hugo Chavez created Conviasa in 2004 to replace Venezuela's bankrupted flagship airline Viasa.
Officials said the crash did not cause any injuries to steel workers or damage to Sidor's installations.
"The plane fell on a waste area where they put barrels of unused steel materials," governor Gomez said.
In the last major crash in Venezuela in 2008, another ATR-42 belonging to private local airline Santa Barbara with 46 passengers on board crashed into mountains, with no survivors.
The Conviasa plane was flying flight number 2350 and carried the registration YV1010.