26 people die in EgyptAir plane crash near Tunis
EgyptAir 843, flying from Cairo to Tunis, crashed while trying to land in Carthage airport on Tuesday. The aircraft hit the ground while flying low in very difficult weather conditions, after a technical failure forced it to abort its landing at the airport.
Tunisian airport and government officials reported that 26 people were killed in the crash. Earlier, Egypt's ambassador in Tunis, Mahdy Fathallah, confirmed on state-run television that "About 15 dead have been accounted for so far."
The EgyptAir aircraft was flying under extremely dangerous conditions – it was flying slowly, close to the ground in very hilly terrain, and in poor visibility of fog and rain. On approaching the airport the EgyptAir captain had radioed Tunisian authorities that his landing gear had not come down, making it impossible for him to land. Due to this malfunction the captain cancelled the landing and then tried to circle the airport.
It was after aborting the landing that the airplane, flying low and nearly blind because of heavy fog and rain, suddenly disappeared from radar screens at the airport. It had crashed just 6 kilometers from the airfield, in the Nahli area of Tunis. Rescue workers rushing into the hills found the wreck and immediately started evacuating the injured.
One airport source said there had been 20 Egyptian passengers, 27 passengers of other nationalities, and
eight crewmembers on board. A senior Tunisian government official told Reuters that 13 of the passengers on the EgyptAir flight 843 had survived and had been taken to hospital.
The EgyptAir airliner was a Boeing 737-500, one of five such jet airliners operated by the national Egyptian carrier. It has been in service with EgyptAir for over ten years. The aircraft has seating for 104 passengers, but was apparently flying only half-full when the crash occurred.
EgyptAir is one of the oldest airlines in the world, and operates a fleet of nearly 40 aircraft on routes throughout the world. The Tunis crash further damages EgyptAir’s safety record, already tarnished by the 1999 crash of an EgyptAir Boeing 767 that crashed into the Atlantic ocean while flying from New York to Cairo, killing over 200 passengers on board. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)