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Saturday October 16th 2021

Plane crash in Libya ‘kills more than 100 on board’


A passenger plane has crashed in Libya, killing more than 100 people on board, officials in the capital Tripoli say.

The Airbus A330 crashed on landing at Tripoli airport after a flight from Johannesburg, Afriqiyah Airways said.

Sixty-one Dutch nationals were among those killed, Dutch tourism board ANWB said. A Dutch boy was the sole known survivor, the Libyans say.

British and South African passengers are also thought to have been on board. The 11 crew were said to be Libyan.

Nicky Knapp, a spokeswoman for Airports Company South Africa, said seven passengers were booked to connect to London Gatwick Airport, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf in Germany, and one to Charles de Gaulle in Paris.

“Nationalities and names won’t be revealed at this stage,” she said.

“A 24-hour helpline has been set up to assist families and relatives.”

The plane’s final destination was scheduled to have been Tripoli, said Afriqiyah.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende confirmed that “several dozen” Dutch nationals were killed.

Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Ad Meijer said the boy who survived was undergoing surgery in Tripoli for his injuries, including broken bones.

On its website, Afriqiyah Airways announced “the tragic loss” of flight 8U771 at 0600 local time (0400 GMT).

“We extend our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. The search and rescue mission has now been completed,” its statement said

Libyan Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zidan said 104 people had been on board the plane – 93 passengers and 11 crew.

He said that the remains of 96 victims had already been recovered.

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said said it was “aware of reports that there were British nationals on board the flight, but this has not been confirmed”.

“We are urgently investigating. A consular team from the British Embassy are on their way to the airport. Consular staff in Tripoli are urgently seeking further details,” it said.

Libya’s state TV showed footage of a field scattered with pieces of plane debris, and police and rescuers walking with surgical masks and gloves.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Some reports suggest the plane crashed very close to the runway.

“It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated,” a Libyan security official told news agency AFP.

‘Not terrorism’

A flight recorder has already been recovered, and officials hope this will provide some clues as to what caused the disaster.

However, Mr Zidan ruled out terrorism as the cause of the crash.

The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the airport is currently sealed off and ambulances have been going back and forth to the airport.

Our correspondent adds that the weather has been sunny and clear over the past few days.

According to Airbus, the aircraft was delivered from the production line in September 2009 and had accumulated about 1,600 flight hours in some 420 flights.

Afriqiyah Airways is a low-cost Libyan airline founded nine years ago and operates a relatively new fleet of Airbus aircraft, the BBC’s Wyre Davies in Cairo reports.

It flies many routes between Africa and Europe with passengers often transiting through Tripoli, our correspondent adds.

Daniel Hoeltgen, spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency, said the airline had undergone 10 recent safety inspections at European airports, with no significant safety findings, the Associated Press reports.

He added that a team of French crash investigators was already on its way to Tripoli to help Libyan officials determine the cause of the crash.

From: BBC News

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