May 13, 2010 3:00 am
The crash of a Libyan airliner in Tripoli, killing all but one of the 104 people on board, put the Netherlands in shock yesterday as it emerged that 61 of the dead were Dutch -tourists.
The sole survivor plucked from the smouldering debris of the crash was a young boy who was taken to a nearby hospital with -broken bones and other injuries that Libyan officials said were not life-threatening.
"Our thoughts are with the victims and with their relatives and friends who now face uncertainty," Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, told a news conference in The Hague.
Political campaigning for an election next month was suspended until tomorrow and flags across the country were flown at half-mast.
The cause of the crash was not known, although Libyan officials ruled out terrorism. The eight-month-old Airbus A330-200 operated by Afriqiyah Airways crashed 10 minutes before it was due to land in Tripoli on a flight from Johannesburg. It had been scheduled to fly on to London.
Libyan television showed dozens of rescue workers and police sifting a large field scattered with small and large parts of debris, including aeroplane seats and the tail fin of the airliner bearing the colourful logo of Afriqiyah.
Wearing gloves and surgical masks, the workers were shown carrying away a body. Others were picking up small personal items such as wallets and mobile phones.
ANWB, the Dutch tourism and motoring association, said 61 of the dead passengers were from the Net-herlands. Libyan officials said there had been 22 Libyans among the 93 passengers of various unspecified nationalities and 11 crew.
The identity of the boy who survived was not known, Dutch officials said. He was variously reported as being eight or 10 years old and was shown on Libyan television lying awake in a hospital bed, his face bruised.
The reason for the large concentration of Dutch passengers appeared to be because they had been booked onto the flight by two Dutch travel agencies, Kras and Stip Reizen. The passengers had been due to connect with flights to Dusseldorf and Brussels, the travel agencies said.
Afriqiyah Airways was founded by the Libyan state in 2001 and operates an all-Airbus fleet.
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