Plane crash: 3 South Africans confirmed dead

2010-05-12 16:57

Johannesburg - A current and former employee of SA's Global Aviation were among the passengers who died on an Afriqiyah Airways Airbus which crashed in Libya on Wednesday morning.

The former Global Aviation employee's wife was also killed in the crash.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a company official said one person was going to do some work for the charter company, and the former employee and his wife were on a private visit.

She said their families had been informed over the "very difficult morning".

South African authorities were still verifying the passenger list before providing further information on how many South Africans were aboard, but agencies reported that 61 Dutch people were killed in the crash.

The flight left Johannesburg at 19:30 on Tuesday and was due to arrive in Tripoli at 16:30 on Wednesday.

Govt help

Ninety-three passengers and 11 crew were on board when the plane crashed. So far only a small Dutch boy had been reported as having survived the crash.

"Our ambassador in Tripoli did confirm that there were South Africans. We are trying to verify that information through the passenger list," international relations department spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said.

Members of the public were also making enquiries and once these verifications had been concluded, the department would be able to provide further information.

The department had established an emergency operations room, which, said Kota, had been busy since news of the crash broke.

The number to use is 012-351-1000 and callers must request the consular section.

South Africa's ambassador to Libya had also set up an operations centre with other SA Development Community ambassadors, to act as a reception centre for South Africans who want to travel to the North African country to identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Airline to fly relatives to Tripoli

The airline said that it would transport relatives to Tripoli without charge, where they would also be given accommodation.

Libyan immigration authorities would grant a visa on arrival, and there would be no need for translation to Arabic of their passports.

The Libyan number to call is +218-91-371-9588. The airline asked journalists not to use that number so it can stay open for relatives.

South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority said their Libyan counterparts would investigate the incident because it occurred in their country.

Airbus spokesperson Linden Burns said so far they had established the plane crashed short of the runway threshold during its approach to land.

Plane in service since 1998

The plane was delivered from the production line in Toulouse, France, in September 2009 and was relatively new.

The wide-bodied aircraft with two aisles down the main cabin, had logged about 1 600 flying hours from about 420 flights.

It is powered by two General Electric CF6-80E1 engines and can be used on journeys up to 13 400km per distance.

That particular model had been in service since 1998.

An Airbus technical team of aviation safety advisors and engineering flight specialists were on their way from Toulouse to Libya on Wednesday to begin their own investigation.