Libya air crash inquiry under way

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Aviation officials in Libya are investigating the plane crash that killed 103 people at Tripoli airport.

The flight recorders have been recovered and handed over to analysts for clues on what brought down the Afriqiyah Airways flight on Wednesday.

Police and rescue workers wearing surgical masks and gloves have been combing the wreckage of the Airbus A330 near the runway.

The sole survivor, a child reported to be Dutch, is being treated in hospital.

Dutch officials say 61 of their nationals were killed in the crash.

Other passengers included nationals from Libya, South Africa, Germany, Britain and France.

The plane – carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew – crashed as it arrived from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Eyewitnesses said the plane started to break up as it came in to land in clear weather.

“It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated,” one security official told the AFP news agency.

The plane’s tailfin bearing the airline’s colourful insignia was the only sizeable piece of wreckage to be seen.

The cause of the crash is not known. The Libyan Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zidan has ruled out terrorism.

‘A miracle’

The child was taken to hospital and underwent surgery for multiple fractures to both legs.

Libyan TV showed the child in a hospital bed with a bandaged head and wearing an oxygen mask.

Little is known about the boy. Libyan officials and the Dutch tourism board said he was aged 10 and from the Netherlands, but the Dutch foreign ministry said its diplomats were trying to see the boy to confirm his nationality.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the boy had muttered “Holland, Holland” to his doctor when asked where he came from.

The head of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called the boy’s survival “truly a miracle”.

Flags across the Netherlands were flying at half mast for the victims on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said a crisis team had been set up in the foreign ministry.

“This is a large group of Dutch nationals, so it’s a deeply sad message we have this day,” he said on Wednesday.

The plane’s 11 crew were reported to have been Libyan.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that at least one British national was on board and Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin later confirmed that an Irish woman was among the dead.

Mr Zidan said victims also included nationals from Germany, Finland, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, South Africa and France, although he had no exact numbers.

According to Airbus, the aircraft was delivered from the production line in September 2009 and had accumulated about 1,600 flight hours in some 420 flights.

Afriqiyah Airways is a low-cost Libyan airline founded nine years ago and operates a relatively new fleet of Airbus aircraft, the BBC’s Wyre Davies in Cairo reports.

Via BBC