Libyan Airbus A330-200 jet with 104 crashes; boy sole survivor

Libyan Airbus A330-200 with 104 crashes; boy sole survivor

A Libyan plane carrying 104 people crashed Wednesday on approach to Tripoli’s airport.  A 10-year-old Dutch boy was the only known survivor.  The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew.

Everyone on the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330-200 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa was killed except the boy, who was undergoing surgery.   Libyan Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zaidan said 96 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage and rescuers were searching for the rest of the victims.

Afriqiyah said flight 771 left Johannesburg at 1 a.m. Wednesday (2300 GMT Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday).  The plane was approaching the airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli when it crashed at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT, 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday) There was no immediate word on the cause, according to a statement by the airlines posted on its website.

According to initial reports, the plane crashed as it neared the threshold of Tripoli International’s main east-west runway, while preparing to touch down from the east.

Libyan state television showed a large field scattered with small and large pieces of plane debris and dozens of police and rescue workers with surgical masks and gloves, some of them carrying at least one body away. They gathered small personal items such as wallets and cell phones from the wreckage.

The Royal Dutch Tourism Board said 61 of the dead came from the Netherlands.

“This is a large group of Dutch nationals after all, so it’s a deeply sad message we have this day,” Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.

Wednesday’s crash was the fourth deadly landing accident at Tripoli airport in the past 40 years, according to the Web site of the U.S.-based Flight Safety Foundation.

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