Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771 in Tripoli, Libya

One person -- believed to be a 10-year-old boy -- survived a passenger plane crash in Libya that was feared to have killed more than 100 people, an official said Wednesday.

The boy was undergoing surgery at a hospital in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after the Afriqiyah Airways plane that left Johannesburg crashed as it neared the end of its flight.

The Dutch Foreign ministry said it had a representative at the hospital waiting to identify the boy, believed to be a Dutch national. He apparently suffered bone injuries.

The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew members when it crashed while trying to land at the Tripoli International Airport.

The president of the European Parliament said about 100 people perished, and Libya's state news agency said 96 bodies had been recovered.

Nicky Knapp, a representative of the Airports Company South Africa, provided the breakdown in the destinations of the passengers aboard: seven to London, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf, one to Paris, and 11 to Libya. She was speaking on behalf of Afriqiyah Airways.

The plane, an Airbus A330-200, was at the tail end of its nearly nine-hour-long flight when it crashed.

"We express our sincere regret and sadness on behalf of the airline. As well, we would like to express our condolences to the relatives and friends of those who had passengers on Flight 8U771 destined for Tripoli late last night, due to arrive around 6 o'clock this morning," she said.

Calling the incident a tragedy, Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament said "some 100 people have died no doubt from many countries around the world."

He said the child's survival "given this tragic event, is truly a miracle."

The Dutch Royal Touring Club said 61 of 62 Dutch passengers on the plane died.

A Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman said the government was trying to get more information about those aboard.

The British Foreign Office said it was looking into whether British nationals were on board the flight.

At the crash site, workers with surgical masks combed through the smoldering wreckage that spilled over a large area. A wheel lay atop a pile of bags. Two green airline seats sat upright and intact amid burned parts of the aircraft.

Officials recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which investigators use to piece together a flight's last minutes.

The Tripoli-based Afriqiyah (Arabic for "African") operates flights to four continents. The planes in the fleet carry the logo 9.9.99 -- the date when the African Union was formed.

The Airbus that crashed is one of three Airbus 330-200s that the airline owns.

Recommended reading:
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* US Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Darmstadt, Germany
* Ethiopian Airline Flight 409 crashes off Beirut international airport

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