A twin-engine plane carrying four people and millions in cash fell Wednesday, March 14, in São Sebastião do Passé a country area 40 miles from Salvador, the capital of Bahia state. Rescuers and police found the bodies but not the money.
The airplane fell on the fields of the Nossa Senhora das Candeias farm. The crash drew residents from the region and according to the local Military Police they found out what the plane was carrying and made off with bags containing 5.6 million reais (US$ 2.6 million) in cash. The money belonged to several banks, which use to charter planes in order to transport large sums of money.
The Bahia Air Taxi aircraft was at the service of a private security company. The accident that occurred around noon killed the pilot José Leão Bezerra de Araújo and the three passengers Renildo Moraes dos Santos, Armando Dantas Ferreira and Genésio Barbosa, all employees of the money transportation firm.
According to the ANAC (National Agency of Civil Aviation) the plane took off from Petrolina, in the state of PernambucoÂ bound to Salvador and fell after two stop-overs both already in Bahia, Juazeiro and Paulo Afonso. The plane was scheduled to land at 12:40 pm at Salvador's Luís Eduardo Magalhães international airport.
Technicians from Brazil's Investigation and Accidents Prevention Center are investigating what has caused the accident. At the moment the two most likely causes are: mechanical failure or lack of fuel. It might take two months to get a final answer.
Meanwhile, the civilian police have been searching houses in the region looking for the cash. Authorities have found money hidden inside stoves, closet, under mattresses and beds and sometimes buried in the backyard. By Thursday night, Bahia's civilian police had only recovered about 400,000 reais (US$ 192,000) of the stolen money.Â
Joel dos Santos, a rural worker who was interrogated by the civilian police told them that he had turned over the money he had stolen to four military policemen who showed up in the morning. A spokesman for the military police, however, said that they hadn't touched any money and that all recovery work was the responsibility of the civilian police.