TRIPOLI, Libya – A Libyan plane carrying 104 people crashed Wednesday on approach to Tripoli’s airport, leaving a field scattered with smoldering debris that included a large chunk of the tail painted with the airline’s brightly colored logo. A 10-year-old Dutch boy was the only known survivor.
The Dutch prime minister said everyone on the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330-200 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa was killed except the boy, who was undergoing surgery. However, Libyan officials only confirmed that 96 bodies had been found and said rescuers were searching for the rest of the victims.
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.
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.
Others sifted through debris — some of it still smoldering — including a flight recorder and green seats with television screens on them. A large piece of the plane’s tail was visible, bearing Afriqiyah’s brightly colored logo with the numbers “9.9.99,” a reference to the date of the founding of the African Union.
The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew.
“Afriqiyah Airways announces that our flight 771 had an accident during landing at Tripoli International airport,” the statement said. “At this moment, we have no information concerning possible casualties or survivors. Our information is that there were 93 passenger and 11 crew aboard. Authorities are conducting the search and rescue mission.”