March to honour crash victims turns anti-Lula


Sao Paulo : A march held in honour of those killed in a plane crash here this month turned into a protest against Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for what the protestors called the government's failure to ensure aviation safety.

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Participants in the march, organised by the victims' families and NGOs Sunday, placed flowers at the accident site and chanted slogans "Out With Lula". Speakers at the rally called for a boycott of the air service Aug 18 to protest the chaos in the industry, Spanish news agency EFE reported Monday.

Organisers said 2,000 turned out for the march, which wound its way through several Sao Paulo streets, while police put the number at 400.

A TAM Airlines Airbus A320 July 17 went off a rain-slicked runway at Sao Paulo's Congonhas Airport, the largest airfield in Brazil, hitting the carrier's fuel depot and killing all 187 people on board and at least 13 on the ground.

Last week, Lula accepted the resignation of Defence Minister Waldir Pires amid an aviation crisis that dates back 10 months and which intensified with this month's plane crash.

The defence ministry is in charge of civil aviation, which has been in crisis after a GOL commercial airliner plunged into the Amazon jungle following a mid-air collision with an executive jet.

All 154 people on board the airliner were killed – in what had been the country's worst-ever air disaster – while the executive jet landed safely.

Officials said Pires's position as defence chief became "untenable" after the TAM Airlines crash in Sao Paulo.

In addition to the two crashes, the aviation industry has been beset with numerous delays resulting from work stoppages by air-traffic controllers, who say they are being dangerously overworked.