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Jenni Rivera fans gather at Encino home of popular banda singer

Fans gathered Monday outside the Encino home of Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera following reports that the small jet carrying her and her entourage crashed on its way to Toluca, Mexico.

The Long Beach native was 43 and leaves behind five children. Mexico's ministry of transportation did not confirm her death outright but said she had been aboard the plane and no one survived. Six others, including two pilots, also were on board.

"She was the Diana Ross of Mexican music," said Gustavo Lopez, an executive vice president at Universal Music Latin Entertainment, an umbrella group that includes Rivera's label. Lopez called Rivera "larger than life" and said that based on ticket sales, she was by far the top-grossing female artist in Mexico.

PHOTOS: Jenni Rivera believed dead in plane crash

Rivera had performed a concert in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday night — her standard fare of knee-buckling power ballads, pop-infused interpretations of traditional banda music and dizzying rhinestone costume changes.

At a news conference after the show, Rivera appeared happy and tranquil, pausing at one point to take a call on her cellphone that turned out to be a wrong number. She fielded questions about struggles in her personal life, including her recent separation from husband Esteban Loaiza, a former major league pitcher whose career included a stint with the Dodgers.

"I can't focus on the negative," she said in Spanish. "Because that will defeat you. That will destroy you.... The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up."

An Appreciation: Jenni Rivera was a rare voice

Hours later, shortly after 3 a.m., Rivera is believed to have boarded a Learjet 25, which took off under clear skies. The jet headed south, toward Toluca, west of Mexico City; there, Rivera had been scheduled to tape the television show "La Voz" — Mexico's version of "The Voice" — on which she was a judge.

The plane, built in 1969 and registered to a Las Vegas talent management firm, reached 11,000 feet. But 10 minutes and 62 miles into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact with its pilots, according to Mexican authorities.

The jet crashed outside Iturbide, a remote city that straddles one of the few roads bisecting Mexico's Sierra de Arteaga national park. Wreckage was scattered across several football fields' worth of terrain. An investigation into the cause of the crash was underway.

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-- Adolfo Flores

 
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