|Map locating Tripoli (AFP graphic)|
TRIPOLI, May 12, 2010 (AFP) - A Libyan plane arriving from South Africa crashed on landing at Tripoli airport Wednesday, killing more than 100 people but an eight-year-old Dutch boy was a miracle survivor, officials said.
Afriqiyah Airways listed 93 passengers and 11 crew members on board its flight 8U771 from Johannesburg.
"I can confirm the crash but not the number of the dead," said Bongani Sithole, an official of the airline at Johannesburg airport. "We hear that it happened one metre (yard) away from the runway."
A Libyan security official earlier told AFP that all those on board the Airbus A330 had died but an airport official said in fact an eight-year-old boy from the Netherlands had survived and was rushed to hospital near Tripoli.
There was no immediate indication of the cause of the crash, which occurred as the Afriqiyah Airways plane was landing after a flight from Johannesburg at around 6 am (0400 GMT).
"It exploded on landing and totally disintegrated," the security official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The crew members were all Libyan nationals, the official added.
An AFP correspondent said the crash site had been sealed off by security officials and ambulances and emergency vehicles were seen rushing between the airport and the capital, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) apart.
The wreckage could be seen in the distance but no plumes of smoke were evident. Weather conditions were good at Tripoli on Wednesday morning, with only light clouds in the sky.
Afriqiyah Airways said on its website that it operates an Airbus fleet.
It started operations with five leased planes and signed a contract with Airbus at an exhibition in Paris in 2007 for the purchase of 11 new planes, the website said.
It was founded in April 2001 and at first fully owned by the Libyan state. The company’s capital was later divided into shares to be managed by the Libya-Africa Investment Portfolio.
On April 21, the airline announced that flights were back to normal after disruptions due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland that grounded flights in Europe last month.
Last June, a 12-year-old girl was the sole survivor of a Yemeni plane crash off the Comoros.
Wednesday's crash was the deadliest air accident in Libya since December 22, 1992 when a Libyan Arab Airlines plane crashed near Tripoli airport killing 157 people.
Twenty-two people were killed in an oil company plane crash in January 2000.
In other major accidents, 79 people were killed when a Korean Air crashed in Tripoli in July 1989.
And 59 people died in a Balkan Bulgarian Airlines crash near Benghazi in December 1977, while 36 passengers and crew died when a Central African Airways came down in August 1958, also near Benghazi in eastern Libya.