NTSB: singer Rivera dead in Mexican plane crash

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MONTERREY, MEXICO (AP) - U.S. authorities confirmed Monday that Jenni Rivera, a U.S.-born singer whose soulful voice and openness about her personal troubles made her a Mexican-American superstar, was killed in a plane crash in northern Mexico.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to help investigate the crash, and the board was told by Mexican authorities that Rivera had died in Sunday’s crash.

Rivera’s relatives in the U.S. already had few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact in rugged territory near the town of Iturbide in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Nuevo Leon state.

“I believe my daughter’s body is unrecognizable,” her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home.

He said that his son would fly to Monterrey Monday or Tuesday.

Also aboard the plane were Rivera’s publicist, Arturo Rivera, her makeup artist, Jacob Yebale, two friends, one named Mario Macias and another who was identified only as Gerardo, and the two pilots, said Mexico’s Communications and Transportation Department in a statement.

Alejandro Argudin, of Mexico’s civil aviation agency, said Monday it would take at least 10 days to have a preliminary report on what happened to the plane.

“We’re in the process of picking up the fragments and we have to find all the parts,” Argudin told reporters. “Depending on weather conditions it would take us at least 10 days to have a first report and many more days to have a report by experts.”

Messages of condolence poured in to the Rivera family from musicians and celebrities.

Mexican songstress and actress Lucero wrote on her Twitter account: “What terrible news! Rest in peace … My deepest condolences for her family and friends.” Rivera’s colleague on the Mexican show “The Voice of Mexico,” pop star Paulina Rubio, said on her Twitter account: “My friend! Why? There is no consolation. God, please help me!”

Born in Los Angeles, California, Rivera was at the peak of her career as perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated regional style influenced by the norteno, banda and ranchero styles.

A 43-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of two, the woman known as the “Diva de la Banda” was known for frank talk about her struggles to give a good life to her children despite a series of setbacks.

She was recently divorced from her third husband, former Major League Baseball player Esteban Loaiza, was once detained at a Mexico City airport with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and she publicly apologized after her brother assaulted a drunken fan who verbally attacked her in 2011.

Her openness about her personal troubles endeared her to millions in the U.S. and Mexico.

“I am the same as the public, as my fans,” she told The Associated Press in an interview last March.

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