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 were no survivors, authorities said.
Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said "everything points toward" the wreckage belonging to the plane carrying Rivera and six other people to Toluca, outside Mexico City, from Monterrey, where the singer who has sold 15 million records had just given a concert.
"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.
The Learjet 25, number N345MC, took off from Monterrey at 3:30 a.m. local time and was reported missing about 10 minutes later. It was registered to Starwood Management of Las Vegas, Nevada, according to FAA records. It was built in 1969 and had a current registration through 2015.
Media and celebrities in Mexico sent condolences to Rivera's family, 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, please help me!" said Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio on her official Twitter account. Singer Miguel Bose, who appears on the Mexican show "The Mexican Voice" along with Rivera, wrote on his Twitter account: "My dear Jenni, you will always be in my heart. Forever. I love you."
The Televisa network announced a special program of "The Mexican Voice" in her honor.
Also believed 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 troubles in love and disdain for men.
The so-called "Diva de la Banda" was beloved by fans on both sides of the border for songs such as "De Contrabando" and "La Gran Senora."
Her parents were Mexicans who had migrated to the United States. Two of her five brothers, Lupillo and Juan Rivera, are also well-known singers of grupero music.
Although the she studied business administration, her passion for music was always present.
She formally debuted on the music scene in 1995 with the release of her album "Chacalosa". Due to its success, she recorded two more independent albums, "We Are Rivera" and "Farewell to Selena," a tribute album to slain singer Selena that helped expand her following.
At the end of the 1990s, Rivera was signed by Sony Music and released two more albums. But widespread success came for her when she joined Fonovisa and released her 2005 album titled "Partier, Rebellious and Daring."
She recently won two Billboard Mexican Music Awards: Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year for "Joyas prestadas: Banda." She was nominated to the Latin Grammy in 2002, 2008 and 2011.
Besides being a singer, she is also a businesswoman and actress, appearing in the indie film Filly Brown, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, as the incarcerated mother of Filly Brown.
She was filming the third season of "I love Jenni," which followed her as she shared special moments with her children and as she toured through Mexico and the United States. She also has the reality shows: "Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis and Raq-C" and her daughter's "Chiquis 'n Control."
Controversy often surrounded Rivera.
In 2009, she was detained at the Mexico City airport when she declared $20,000 in cash but was really carrying $52,167. She was taken into custody. She said it was an innocent mistake and authorities gave her the benefit of the doubt and released her.
In 2011, her brother Juan assaulted a drunken fan at a popular fair in Guanajuato after the man verbally attacked Jenni.
In the face of heavy criticism among her fans and on social networks, Rivera publicly apologized for the incident during a concert in Mexico City, telling her fans: "Thank you for accepting me as I am, with my virtues and defects."
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 with a down-to-earth persona 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.
There have been several high-profile crashes involving Learjets, known as swift, longer-distance passenger aircraft popular with corporate executives, entertainers and government officials.
A Learjet carrying pro-golfer Payne Stewart and five others crashed in northeastern South Dakota in 1999. Investigators said the plane lost cabin pressure and all on board died after losing consciousness for lack of oxygen. The aircraft flew for several hours on autopilot before running out of fuel and crashing in a corn field.
Former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker was severely injured in a 2008 Learjet crash in South Carolina that killed four people.
That same year, a Learjet slammed into rush-hour traffic in a posh Mexico City neighborhood, killing Mexico's No. 2 government official, Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino, and eight others on the plane, plus five people on the ground.
Associated Press Writer Galia Garcia-Palafox contributed to this report from Mexico City.
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