The Mexican charter company whose plane crashed in Cuba on Friday, killing 110 people on board, had received prior safety complaints, two-ex pilots say.
One of the pilots described how a plane rented from Damojh airlines had dropped off radar completely some eight years ago. Another alleged poor maintenance.
Mexican authorities say they will carry out a safety audit of the company.
Three women survived the crash near Havana airport – Cuba's deadliest air disaster in more than 30 years.
Separately, it was revealed that 10 priests and their wives were among the crash victims.
Cuban authorities have launched an investigation into the crash, as rescuers continue to comb through the wreckage site some 20km (12 miles) south of the Cuban capital.
One of two "black boxes" that hold key flight data and information about what happened to the plane has been recovered and is said to be in good condition.
What were the safety complaints?
Allegations of previous safety complaints have emerged against the Mexican-based Damojh company, which leased both the Boeing 737 and its crew to Cuba's flagship state Cubana airline.
The head of Guyana's civil aviation body, Cpt Egbert Field, told the Associated Press news agency the same plane – which was nearly 40 years old – had been barred from using Guyanese airspace last year after authorities found its crew were overloading luggage on flights in Cuba.
In one instance, the news agency reports, Guyanese authorities had discovered suitcases stored in the plane's toilets.
Meanwhile, a retired pilot for Cubana wrote on Facebook that another plane rented by his airline from the same company had briefly dropped off radar for unspecified reasons while over the central Cuban city of Santa Clara in 2010 or 2011.
The captain and co-pilot of that flight were later suspended for "problems and serious lack of technical knowledge," said Ovidio Martinez Lopez, who worked for Cubana for more than 40 years.
He said "many flight attendants, flight attendants and flight safety personnel" had refused to fly on certain Cubana planes over the years.
Another pilot who used to work for Damojh told Mexican newspaper Milenio he had complained about a lack of adequate maintenance of planes.
"I experienced several incidents at this company, like engine failure or the electrical system went when we took off from Mexico on one occasion", Marco Aurelio Hernandez was quoted as saying.
The company has yet to comment on the allegations.
Who were the victims?
Cuba's transport minister said on Saturday that five children were among the victims. Adel Yzquierdo also updated the official death toll to 110, and listed the nationalities of the victims:
- 99 Cubans
- Six Mexican crew members
- One Mexican tourist
- An Argentine couple
- Two passengers from the Western Sahara (a disputed territory annexed by Morocco after Spain withdrew in 1975)
Also among the dead were 10 evangelical priests and their spouses who had been meeting in Havana for several days and were returning to their homes in Holguin province, where the flight was destined to land.
"On that plane were 10 couples of pastors. Twenty people. All of the Nazarene Church in the eastern region," confirmed Maite Quesada, a member of the Cuban Council of Churches.
The Argentine couple have been named by their government as Dora Beatriz Cifuentes and Oscar Hugo Almaras, both in their 60s.
Several victims' relatives have travelled to Havana to help identify the deceased.
Meanwhile, the three survivors remain in critical condition with serious burns.
"My daughter is a fighter, she's strong, she'll save herself," the mother of a 23-year-old survivor, Amparo Font, told Reuters news agency.
Honduras prison violence: Dozens killed in women’s jail riot
At least 46 women have been killed in a riot at a women’s prison in Honduras on Tuesday.
It is understood that a fight broke out between rival gangs, after which one gang set a cell alight.
Officials say most of those who died were killed in the fire but others were shot, stabbed or beaten to death.
An investigation is under way to determine how the inmates managed to smuggle automatic weapons and machetes into the jail.
President Xiomara Castro, who last year launched a crackdown on gangs, said on social media that she was “shocked by the monstrous murder of women” and would take “drastic measures” in response.
She has dismissed Security Minister Ramón Sabillón and replaced him with the head of the national police force, Gustavo Sánchez.
Survivors of the deadly incident told local media that it was triggered by rivalries between two of Central America’s most notorious criminal organisations: the 18th Street Gang and MS-13.
They said members of one gang had been taunting their rivals, who then set fire to the mattresses in the cell holding those taunting them.
Videos posted on social media showed a huge cloud of grey smoke rising from the women’s prison, which is located about 25km north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and holds approximately 900 inmates.
While the warring factions are locked up in different parts of the jail, the wings are located close to each other.
The unrest broke out early in the morning local time on Tuesday.
Survivors said that many of those who died had been seeking refuge from the flames in a bathroom. Their burnt bodies were found piled on top of each other.
Others were shot dead and stabbed by gang members in the corridors and a prison courtyard.
Some of the victims are not thought to have been linked to either of the two gangs but were caught up in the incident.
Among them is a former police cadet who was serving a 15-year prison sentence after confessing to killing a fellow police officer.
Another of those killed was only days away from being released after serving her sentence for kidnapping.
Honduras is known for corruption and gang violence, which have infiltrated government institutions and seen the homicide rate soar.
Along with neighbours El Salvador and Guatemala, the country is a major transit route for cocaine coming from South America to the United States.
It also has a history of deadly prison riots, which are often linked to organised crime.
At least 18 people were killed in gang violence at a prison in the northern port city of Tela in 2019.
Colombian plane crash: New clues found in search for lost children
A desperate search for four children who have been missing since their plane crashed in the Colombian jungle on 1 May has yielded new clues.
Items belonging to the siblings, who are aged between 11 months and 13 years, have been found in two different locations in the rainforest.
Their mother and the other adults on board the plane died in the crash.
But search teams say small footprints found last week indicate that the children survived the impact.
The footprints were spotted on Thursday and specialists said most likely belonged to the children.
Earlier last week, search teams had found a child’s drinking bottle, a pair of scissors and a hair tie, as well as what appeared to be a makeshift shelter made from branches and a half-eaten passion fruit.
The children belong to the Huitoto indigenous group and members of their community have expressed the hope that their knowledge of fruits and jungle survival skills will have given them a better chance of surviving the ordeal.
But despite more than 100 soldiers combing the jungle, no further traces were found until the early hours of Wednesday.
The latest items were spotted by an indigenous woman some 500m (1,640ft) from the crash site.
She found a dirty nappy, a green towel and shoes, which judging by their size are thought to belong to the second youngest of the missing siblings, who is four years old. The nappy is believed to have been worn by the 11-month-old baby.
At a separate location, the search team found another nappy, a mobile phone case and a pink cap which matches the drinking bottle found last week.
Indigenous people have joined the search and helicopters have been broadcasting a message from the children’s grandmother recorded in the Huitoto language urging them to stay put and to stop moving so as to make them easier to locate.
The latest traces are further indication that the four siblings survived the plane crash which killed their mother and the plane’s pilot and co-pilot, the Colombian army said.
But it warned that the state of the items suggested that they had not been abandoned there recently, but “sometime between 3 and 8 May”.
The army added that it was encouraged by the fact that none of the items showed traces of blood.
The army colonel in charge of the search also said that all indications were that the four children were roaming the jungle on their own.
Last week, Colombia’s president came under criticism when a tweet published on his account announced that the children had been found.
He erased the tweet the next day saying that the information – which his office had been given by Colombia’s child welfare agency – could not be confirmed.
Pedro I: Emperor’s embalmed heart arrives in Brazil
The embalmed heart of Brazil’s first emperor, Dom Pedro I, has arrived in the capital Brasilia to mark 200 years of independence from Portugal.
The heart, which lies preserved in a flask filled with formaldehyde, was flown on board a military plane from Portugal.
It will be received with military honours before going on public display at the foreign ministry.
The heart will be returned to Portugal after Brazil’s independence day.
Portuguese officials gave the go-ahead for the preserved organ to be moved from the city of Porto for the celebrations of Brazil’s bicentenary.
The organ arrived on a Brazilian air force plane accompanied by the mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira.
Mayor Moreira said it would return to Portugal after having basked “in the admiration of the Brazilian people”.
“The heart will be received like a head of state, it will be treated as if Dom Pedro I was still living amongst us,” Brazil foreign ministry’s chief of protocol Alan Coelho de Séllos said.
There will be a cannon salute, a guard of honour and full military honours.
“The national anthem [will be played] and the independence anthem, which by the way was composed by Dom Pedro I, who as well as an emperor was a good musician in his spare time,” Mr Séllos said.
Dom Pedro was born in 1798 into Portugal’s royal family, which at the time also ruled over Brazil. The family fled to the then-Portuguese colony to evade Napoleon’s invading army.
When Dom Pedro’s father, King John VI, returned to Portugal in 1821, he left the 22-year-old to rule Brazil as regent.
A year later, the young regent defied the Portuguese parliament, which wanted to keep Brazil as a colony, and rejected its demand that he return to his home country.
On 7 September 1822 he issued Brazil’s declaration of independence and was soon after crowned emperor.
He returned to Portugal to fight for his daughter’s right to accede to the Portuguese throne and died aged 35 of tuberculosis.
On his deathbed, the monarch asked that his heart be removed from his body and taken to the city of Porto, where it is kept in an altar in the church of Our Lady of Lapa.
His body was transferred to Brazil in 1972 to mark the 150th anniversary of independence and has been kept in a crypt in São Paulo.
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