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Plane Carrying 104 Crashes in Libya, 1 Survivor

  • In a photo released by Libya TV, the lone survivor of a Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Tripoli is seen being treated.AP

  • May 12: Rescue teams search the site of the Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane crash in Tripoli, Libya.AP2010

A Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane with 104 people on board crashed Wednesday on approach to Tripoli's airport, killing at least 96 people. A 10-year-old from Holland was the only known survivor, Libya's transport minister said.

Libyan state television showed a large field scattered with small and large pieces of plane debris and dozens of police and rescue workers with surgical masks and gloves, some of them carrying at least one body away. They gathered small personal items such as wallets and cell phones from the wreckage.

The speculation is that the plane came down "hard and fast" due to the disintegrated nature of the wreckage.

Others sifted through debris -- some of it still smoldering -- including a flight recorder and green seats with television screens on them. A large piece of the plane's tail was visible, bearing Afriqiyah's brightly colored logo with the numbers "9.9.99," a reference to the date of the founding of the African Union.

One passenger wrote on Twitter on approach to the airport that something was wrong with the plane, referring to a "left wing inlet," Dutch media reported. The pilot of the plane appeared to know he was in trouble upon approach, calling ahead to Tripoli to request ambulances be at the ready.

Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zaidan said 96 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage. Libya's official JANA news agency quoted him as saying a Dutch child has survived the crash. He is reportedly in stable condition at a Tripoli hospital.

Rescue workers were looking for more bodies, Zaidan said.

In Amsterdam, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said dozens of Dutch citizens were aboard the plane and confirmed a Dutch child survived.

Initial passenger reports listed 62 Dutch fliers, 22 Libyans, nine unknown plus the 11 crew members.

All were flying from Johannesburg to Tripoli, and many were then connecting to European airports.

The high number of Dutch passengers on the plane was due to the fact they were a part of two different Holland based travel groups.

The British Foreign Office told Fox News they are looking into reports that British nationals were on board. Germans were also reported to be among the victims.

The Airbus A330-200 arriving from Johannesburg, South Africa was approaching the airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli when it crashed at around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT, 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday) There was no immediate word on the cause, according to a statement by the airlines posted on its website.

Afriqiyah said flight 771 left Johannesburg at 1 a.m. Wednesday (2300 GMT Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday).

"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."

The airlines later issued a second statement saying a search-and-rescue operation at the crash site "has now been completed and casualties have been moved to various hospitals."

The flight was scheduled to continue on to London's Gatwick airport after the stop in Tripoli.

Weather conditions over Tripoli's international airport were good on Wednesday, with three-mile (4.8-kilometer) visibility, scattered clouds at 10,000 feet and winds of only three miles per hour.

Daniel Hoeltgen, spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency said Afriqiyah has undergone 10 recent safety inspections at European airports, with no significant safety findings. He said a team of French crash investigators was already on its way to Tripoli.

"We are currently talking to Airbus and with the French accident investigator BEA, which will be involved in the investigation," said Hoeltgen. "We will lend our support if this is required by authorities in charge."

Afriqiyah Airways is not included on the European Union's list of banned airlines. The list has nearly 300 carriers deemed by the EU not to meet international safety standards.

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.

The main runway at Tripoli Airport is 3,600 yards (meters) long. According to international airport guides, it is not equipped with an Instrument Landing System. This all-weather, precision approach system guides descending planes down to the threshold of the runway.

But it does have two other systems that many other airports use worldwide -- a high frequency omnidirectional radio system that pilots use to navigate their aircraft, and a non-directional beacon that also helps guide planes into the airport.

Afriqiyah Airways operates an all Airbus fleet. It was founded in April 2001 and is fully owned by the Libyan government.

Fox News' Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.