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Singer Jenni Rivera killed in Mexican plane crash

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 said Mexican authorities had informed them that Rivera had died in the accident.

Rivera’s relatives in the U.S. already had few doubts that she was on the Learjet 25 that disintegrated on impact Sunday in rugged territory in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico.

“My son Lupillo told me that effectively it was Jenni’s plane that crashed and that everyone on board died,” her father, Pedro Rivera, told dozens of reporters gathered in front of his Los Angeles-area home. “I believe my daughter’s body is unrecognizable.”

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.

Messages of condolence poured in from fellow musicians and celebrities.

Born in Long Beach, 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, 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.

A mangled California driver’s license with Rivera’s name and picture was found in the crash site debris.

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.

Also believed aboard the plane were her publicist, Arturo Rivera, her lawyer, makeup artist and the flight crew.

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.

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.

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