MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — The wreckage of a small plane believed to be carrying Mexican-American music superstar Jenni Rivera was found in northern Mexico on Sunday and there are no apparent survivors, authorities said.
Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said “everything points toward” it being the U.S.-registered Learjet 25 carrying Rivera and six other people to Toluca, outside Mexico City, from Monterrey.
“There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human” in the wreckage found in the state of Nuevo Leon, Ruiz Esparza told the Televisa network. The impact was so powerful that the remains of the plane “are scattered over an area of 250 to 300 meters. It is almost unrecognizable.”
No cause was given for the plane’s crash, but its wreckage was found near the town of Iturbide in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Oriental, where the terrain is very rough. It took off from Monterrey before dawn at 3:30 a.m. local time and was reported missing about 10 minutes later.
Media and celebrities in Mexico sent condolences to the family of Rivera, who has sold more than 15 million records, but authorities still had not confirmed that she was aboard the plane and said there will be an investigation to identify the remains found.
“My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God help me!” said Mexican songstress Paulina Rubio on her official Twitter account. Singing and soap opera star Lucero wrote on her Twitter account: “What horrible news! … My deepest sympathies for her family and friends. Luz.”
Also aboard the plane were her publicist, Arturo Rivera, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew.
The 43-year-old Rivera who was born and raised in Long Beach, California, is one of the biggest stars of the Mexican regional style known as grupero music, which is influenced by the norteno, cumbia and ranchero styles.
Though drug trafficking was the theme of some of her songs, she was not considered a singer of “narco corridos,” or ballads glorifying drug lords like other groups, such as Los Tigres del Norte. She was better known for singing about her disdain for men.
The so-called “La Diva de la Banda” was beloved by fans on both sides of the border for songs such as “De Contrabando” and “La Gran Senora.”
She recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for “Joyas prestadas: Banda.” She has also been nominated various times for Latin Grammys.
The singer, businesswoman and actress appeared in the indie film Filly Brown, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, as the incarcerated mother of Filly Brown. She also has her own reality shows including “I Love Jenni” and “Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis and Raq-C” and her daughter’s “Chiquis `n Control.”
Rivera was detained at the Mexico City airport in May 2009 when she declared $20,000 in cash but was really carrying $52,167 and was ordered to stand trial a year later. She said it was an innocent mistake.
On Saturday night, Rivera had given a concert before thousands of fans in Monterrey. After the concert she gave a press conference during which she spoke of her emotional state following her recent divorce from former Major League Baseball pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who played for teams including the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do. I am a woman like any other and ugly things happen to me like any other woman,” she said Saturday night. “The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”
The mother of five children and grandmother of two had announced in October that she was divorcing Loaiza after two years of marriage. It was her third marriage.
She was proud to present herself as a Latina woman struggling to give a good life to her children.
“I am the same as the public, as my fans,” she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.
Rivera is the sister of Mexican singer Lupillo Rivera. Patricia Chavez of Lupillo Rivera’s office in the United States told The AP that “for now we don’t have any information that would be useful.”
Associated Press Writer Galia Garcia-Palafox contributed to this report from Mexico City.