At least 90 people, most of them Lebanese, were killed on Thursday when an aircraft bound for Beirut crashed into the sea off the west African state of Benin, witnesses said.
The jetliner was carrying Lebanese workers home for the holidays when it crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff in Benin.
According to AFP, the witnesses said they had seen the bodies lined up on the beach near the aircraft, which crashed into the sea near the runway after take off from Cotonou, capital of Benin.
One of the crewmembers on board, who survived the crash, told reporters that the aircraft was heading to Beirut and that most of the passengers were Lebanese. The plane belonged to a Lebanese charter airline called UTA, according to airport sources in Beirut.
As many as 200 passengers and crewmembers were on the UTA Flight 141 bound for Beirut from Cotonou, when the plane went down at 2:55 p.m., said Jerome Dandjinou, a top airport security official.
Other unconfirmed reports in Lebanon said there were 140 passengers on board the Guinean-owned plane.
The Lebanon-based Al Manar television quoted a witness at the crash site as saying that the plane had trouble taking off and hit a building at the end of the runway.
"The airplane then exploded and crashed into the sea," the witness said. "It's a horrible tragedy beyond imagination," he said, adding that most of the victims were Lebanese. (Albawaba.com)
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