BRASILIA, SEPT. 8 -- An air force jet carrying the land reform minister of Brazil and eight other persons exploded tonight after taking off from an airstrip in the Amazon jungle. Officials said there was little hope anyone survived.

The minister, Marcos Freire, four top ranking Land Reform Ministry officials and a crew of three were aboard the small plane when it exploded shortly after takeoff from the Carajas iron ore mine in the northern state of Para, according to an air force statement.

The wreckage of the plane, identified as a HS2129, came down about three miles from the airstrip, the statement said.

Military rescue teams were sent to search for survivors, but there was little chance anyone could still be alive, the statement said. The cause of the explosion was not known. Freire, 56, and the others were returning to the capital of Brasilia after a visit to Belem, Para's capital.

Among the passengers were Jose Eduardo Viera Raduan, 34, president of the national institute of land reform, and Dirceu Pesoa, the secretary-general of the Land Reform Ministry, the air force said. On Friday, they were in Rio De Janeiro and expressed optimism over the government's land reform programs.