December 11, 2012 / 2:45 AM / 7 years ago

Jenni Rivera's family hopes Mexican-American singer still alive

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family of Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera said on Monday they are holding onto hope that she may still be alive, although U.S. officials said earlier that she died on Sunday in a plane crash in Mexico.

Jacqueline Rivera, daughter of Jenni Rivera, arrives at the home of Jenni Rivera's mother, in Lakewood, California, December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

“In our eyes, we still have faith that our sister will be OK,” Rivera’s brother Juan told reporters outside the family house near Long Beach, California.

“We thank God for the life that he has given ... my sister,” said Juan Rivera, also a singer. “For all the triumphs and successes she has had, and we expect that there will be more in the future.”

Rivera, 43, died after the small jet she was traveling in crashed in northern Mexico on Sunday, U.S. officials said. Rivera’s father, Pedro, told Telemundo television on Sunday that everyone on the plane had died. So far, authorities have not announced the recovery of any bodies.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said it was helping Mexican authorities with the investigation of the crash of the private Learjet LJ25.

The plane crashed at about 3:30 a.m. local time (4.30 a.m. EST) in the municipality of Iturbide some 70 miles south of Monterrey, from which the singer and six others were en route to Mexico City.

Rivera was to perform in the city of Toluca, 40 miles southwest of Mexico city, in central Mexico after a concert in Monterrey on Saturday night.

It is not clear what caused the crash, and the Mexican transportation ministry said the wreckage was strewn so far about that it was difficult to recognize the crash site.

Rivera was born in Long Beach to Mexican immigrants and lived in suburban Los Angeles. She was a giant figure in the Mexican folk nortena and banda genres.

She had sold 15 million albums in her 17-year career and garnered a slew of Latin Grammy nominations.

“The entire Universal Music Group family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend Jenni Rivera,” the singer’s record label said in a statement.

“From her incredibly versatile talent to the way she embraced her fans around the world, Jenni was simply incomparable,” Universal added in the statement. “Her talent will be missed; but her gift of music will be with us always.”

In recent years Rivera had branched out into television with a reality television show and as a judge on the Mexican version of the singing competition “The Voice.”

Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Lisa Shumaker

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