Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:23 am (KSA) 21:23 pm (GMT)

Child survivor as 103 killed in Libya plane crash

Afriqiyah Airways confirmed the crash of its flight 8U771 from Johannesburg (File)
Afriqiyah Airways confirmed the crash of its flight 8U771 from Johannesburg (File)

A Dutch boy was the sole survivor when a Libyan plane arriving from South Africa exploded on landing at Tripoli airport on Wednesday, killing 103 people, officials said.

Afriqiyah Airways listed 93 passengers and 11 crew members on board its flight 8U771 from Johannesburg.

"I can confirm the crash but not the number of the dead," said Bongani Sithole, an official of the airline at Johannesburg airport. "We hear that it happened one meter (yard) away from the runway."

Libya's Transport Minister Mohammed Zidan said the sole survivor was a 10-year-old Dutch child. "The child is in good condition and is in hospital undergoing checks," the minister told a news conference at the airport.

The minister also said an investigation would be launched to establish the cause of the crash but he ruled out a terrorist attack.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said several dozen Dutch passengers were on board but he did not have the exact number. A crisis team has been set up at the foreign affairs ministry.

A Libyan security official earlier told AFP that all those on board the Airbus
A330 had died except for a Dutch boy who had survived and been rushed to hospital near Tripoli.

There was no immediate indication of the cause of the crash, which occurred as the Afriqiyah Airways plane was landing after a flight from Johannesburg at around 6 am (0400 GMT).

"It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated," the security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The crew members were all Libyan nationals, the official added.

An AFP correspondent said the crash site had been sealed off by security officials and ambulances and emergency vehicles were seen rushing between the airport and the capital, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) apart.

The wreckage could be seen in the distance but no plumes of smoke were evident. Weather conditions were good at Tripoli on Wednesday morning, with only light clouds in the sky.

Afriqiyah Airways said on its website that it operates an Airbus fleet.

It started operations with five leased planes and signed a contract with Airbus at an exhibition in Paris in 2007 for the purchase of 11 new planes, the website said.

It was founded in April 2001 and at first fully owned by the Libyan state. The company’s capital was later divided into shares to be managed by the Libya-Africa Investment Portfolio.

On April 21, the airline announced that flights were back to normal after disruptions due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that grounded flights in Europe last month.

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