Child only survivor in Libyan jet crash

By Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI (BestGrowthStock) – A Libyan Airbus jet crashed early on Wednesday as it tried to land at Tripoli airport, killing 103 people on board and leaving a young Dutch boy the sole survivor, Libyan officials said.

The Airbus A330-200, which had been in service only since September, was flying from Johannesburg to the Libyan capital when it crashed just short of the runway around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), the airline and planemaker said.

The aircraft is the same type as Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic on June 1 last year. The cause of that crash has not been firmly identified.

Saleh Ali Saleh, an executive with Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways told Reuters there had been 62 Dutch passengers on the plane.

Those on board also included at least 13 Libyans, 2 German nationals and one each from Zimbabwe and the Philippines, but he did not have a full list, he said.

In London, Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed that at least one British national was on the flight. At least four South Africans were also on board, according to people in South Africa with ties to the missing passengers.

“Everybody is dead, except for one child,” Libyan Transport Minister Mohamed Zidan earlier told a news conference at Tripoli airport. The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew, Libyan officials and executives from the airline said.

The minister said investigators were working out what went wrong with Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771. He ruled out terrorism as the cause.

Libyan newspaper Quryna, which has close links to the government, reported that shortly before the crash the pilot had contacted the control tower to ask them to alert emergency services because there was a problem with the plane.

There was no official confirmation of that report.

Libyan officials said the survivor was a 10-year-old Dutch boy who was in hospital but did not sustain life-threatening injuries. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said its diplomats were trying to see him to confirm his identity.

Mohamed Rashid, a doctor at Tripoli’s al-Khadra hospital, said the boy was in a stable condition and had undergone surgery on leg fractures.

“The operation was successful and he is under our care,” he told reporters, adding that some of the medical staff spoke Dutch and were able to communicate with the boy.

Footage broadcast on Libyan state television showed the child in a hospital bed, wearing a breathing mask. He appeared to be conscious, and the only visible sign of any injury was a bandage around the top of his head.

HIGH-SPEED IMPACT

Reuters pictures from the crash site showed the ground carpeted with small pieces of debris from the plane and passengers’ personal effects, including a Dutch-language guide book to South Africa.

Only the aircraft’s tail fin was more or less intact, standing upright but leaning at an angle.

Saleh, the Afriqiyah Airways executive, told Reuters that the plane’s black boxes had been recovered from the crash site.

“The deaths were probably due to the impact as I did not hear any report of a fire. The plane was traveling fast as it was still short of the runway when it crashed,” Saleh said.

Planemaker Airbus issued a statement confirming it had manufactured the jet involved in the crash. “Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the authorities responsible for the investigation into the accident,” it said.

The crashed aircraft was delivered from the production line in September 2009 and had accumulated approximately 1,600 flight hours, Airbus added.

Afriqiyah Airways, which is owned by the Libyan state and was established in 2001, has never before had a crash.

European aviation safety officials told Reuters that Afriqiyah’s aircraft — including the plane in Wednesday’s crash — had been subject to regular inspections and no significant problems had been reported.

Stock Market

Child only survivor in Libyan jet crash