CAIRO // An eight-year-old boy is believed to be the only survivor from a plane carrying 104 people that crashed on landing today in the Libyan capital Tripoli. "His life is not in danger," the Libyan transport minister, Mohammed Ali Zidan, told a news conference, adding that "the sole survivor" was in a Tripoli hospital. Libyan rescue workers have so far retrieved 96 bodies and the black boxes from the wreckage, the state-run JANA news agency reported, citing Mr Zidan. The head of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said he had been informed that about 100 people on board died while the child survived, and said the his survival was "truly a miracle". State television showed a large field scattered with small and large pieces of the Afriqiyah Airways plane.
Dozens of police and rescue workers, wearing surgical masks and gloves, sifted through the debris and were seen carrying at least one body away. They were also gathering small personal items such as wallets and cell phones from the wreckage. A large piece of the tail bearing the Afriqiyah brightly colored logo was visible, while other parts of the plane were in shreds. A crane lifted a burnt, smashed car off the field. The Airbus A330-200 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa was coming in to land when it crashed at around 6am local time. (4am GMT) There was no immediate word on the cause, according to a statement from the airline posted on its website. "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."
According to initial reports, the plane crashed as it neared the threshold of Tripoli International's main east-west runway, while preparing to touch down from the east. Weather conditions over the airport were good on Wednesday, with three-mile (4.8-kilometre) visibility, scattered clouds at 10,000 feet and winds of only three miles per hour. In Johannesburg, Afriqiyah's office said it was still trying to provide a breakdown of the nationality of passengers. In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said he was aware of unconfirmed reports that there were British Nationals on board the flight. Afriqiyah Airways operate an all Airbus fleet. It started its operations with five leased planes and then signed a contract with the Airbus Company during the Paris Flight Exhibition in 2007 for the purchase of 11 new planes including five Airbus A-320 and six A-350 models in addition to the right to purchase four further types of the same plane. It was founded in April 2001 and is fully owned by the Libyan government. * With agencies