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Dutch boy believed to be sole survivor when plane carrying 104 crashes

The accident happens as the aircraft tries to land in Tripoli, Libya, on a flight from South Africa. Dozens of the victims are from the Netherlands.

May 12, 2010|By Jeffrey Fleishman | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • A 10 year-old Dutch boy, the only known survivor of the crash of an Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Tripoli, is treated in a hospital.
A 10 year-old Dutch boy, the only known survivor of the crash of an Afriqiyah… (Associated Press )

Reporting from Cairo — A 10-year-old Dutch boy was believed to be the sole survivor Wednesday after a passenger jet bound from South Africa with 104 people aboard crashed while attempting to land in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, according to rescue officials and news organizations.

The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus 330 was descending toward a runway at the Libyan International Airport about 6:10 a.m. on a flight from Johannesburg that was reportedly scheduled to continue on to Gatwick Airport in London. The Royal Dutch Tourism Board said that 61 of the victims were from the Netherlands.

Libya's Transport Minister Mohamed Zidan said a child with a Dutch passport was from taken from the crash site. "The child is in good condition and is in the hospital undergoing checks," the minister told a news conference at the airport.

The cause of the crash, which occurred close to the runway, is under investigation. Zidan said Libyan officials "definitely ruled out the theory that the crash was the result of an act of terrorism."

Authorities said the plane's two black boxes had been found amid the shattered fuselage and scattered debris, luggage and clothing. The aircraft was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew. There were conflicting accounts about the death toll. Ninety-six bodies had been recovered, but Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenende, speaking to reporters in Holland, said the child was the only known survivor.

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

Afriqiyah Airways announces "that our flight 8U771 had an accident during landing at Tripoli International airport," a statement from the airline said. "At this moment, we have no information concerning possible casualties or survivors. Our information is that were 93 passengers and 11 crew aboard. The competent authorities are conducting the search and rescue mission."

The airline, which operates an all-Airbus fleet of 11 planes, is managed by the LibyaAfrica Investment Portfolio. Flight 771 was reported to have logged about 1,600 flight hours.

jeffrey.fleishman@latimes.com

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