Elizabeth Arrott | 12 may 2010 | VOA|
Cairo – A Libyan airliner with 104 people on board has crashed during landing at Tripoli’s airport. At least 103 people have been confirmed killed, with a young Dutch boy the only known survivor. More than half the passengers are believed to have been from the Netherlands.
The Afriqiyah Airways plane was arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa, and is believed to have crashed just short of the runway.
The Libyan-owned airline says 93 passengers and 11 crewmembers were on board flight 771 as it attempted to land.
A Libyan official says a young Dutch boy who was the lone survivor did not have life threatening injuries.
Libyan media showed wreckage of the plane spread over a wide field, with rescue and emergency workers on the scene.
Officials say they have already recovered the flight’s voice recorder, which may give information on the cause of the crash. Weather is not believed to be a factor. Witnesses say they did not see any fire before the plane broke apart. Authorities announced an investigation is under way, but initially ruled out a terrorist attack.
In Johannesburg, a spokeswoman for the Airports Company South Africa, Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, said the company had no confirmation on what caused the crash.
“What we do know is that the airline left last night at 2137 [1937 GMT] for Tripoli. It was scheduled to arrive in Tripoli at 6 o’clock [0400 GMT],” she said. “We don’t know where the communication failure happened, but what we can confirm is that 104 passengers and crew were on board at the time.”
Afriqiyah said its crewmembers were Libyan. Officials in South Africa reported most aboard the flight had planned to make a connection in Tripoli and fly on to various destinations in Europe. Crisis centers have been set up in both Johannesburg and Tripoli.
The airline maintains an Airbus fleet and had previously maintained a good safety record.
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