Libyan plane crash kills 61 Dutch
An airplane crash in Libya on Wednesday morning left 61 Dutch citizens dead, a spokesperson for the Dutch tourist emergency service confirmed. The only survivor is a young boy.
Flight 8U771, an A330-200 Airbus operated by Afriqiyah Airways, was flying from Johannesburg to Tripoli, where many passengers were supposed to board connecting flights to Brussels and Düsseldorf. Instead of landing in the Libyan capital, the plane crashed around 6 am on Wednesday with 104 people on board: 93 passengers and 11 crew members. Only one passenger, a Dutch boy, is said to have survived the crash. He is currently being treated for his fractures in a Tripoli hospital, a Dutch embassy employee there said.
The cause of the crash is still unknown.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende held a press conference after he heard of the incident and said the Dutch foreign affairs ministry has appointed a crisis team that will "help where it can". Dutch embassy staff in Tripoli have arrived on the scene of the disaster to assist local authorities. "Our thoughts go out to all those still mired in uncertainty," the prime minister said.
Afriqiyah Airways was founded by the Libyan government in 2001 and is now owned by the Libyan investment company, Portfolio. It mainly operates continental African flights and has regular services to London and Amsterdam.
The crashed airplane has been in service since September 2009 and has flown 1,600 hours in some 420 flights. The A330-200 is one of Airbus' newest models, intended for use on long and medium-haul flights.
Last June, the Airbus 330 made headlines when one such aircraft crashed into the ocean on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. It was the first time an Airbus 330 was involved in such an accident. A month later, an Airbus 310 operated by Yemeni carrier Yemenia crashed into the sea while en route to the Comoros islands. The Yemenia plane was a second-hand aircraft built in 1990 that had earlier been declared unfit for flight by the French inspection.
It is not the first time numerous Dutch people have died in a crash abroad. In 1992, an airplane crashed in Faro, Portugal, killing 56. In the same year, 14 Dutch citizens were killed when a plane went down in Nepal. In March 1977, 248 Dutch people died when two airplanes collided at a Tenerife airport on the Canary Islands.