A Libyan aircraft has crashed while attempting to land at Tripoli airport, killing 103 people, more than half of them Dutch, officials said.
Only one passenger, a Dutch boy, survived the crash, when the craft came down on a plot of barren land just short of the runway on Wednesday morning.
Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that shortly before the crash the pilot had contacted the control tower to ask them to alert emergency services because there was a problem with the plane, but there was no official confirmation of that report.
The Airbus A330,which belongs to the state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, was on a regular flight from Johannesburg.
Around 93 passengers and 11 crew were on board, many of them Dutch tourists and tour operators returning home from a trip to South Africa.
The Dutch Travel and Transport Association ANWB said at least 61 Dutch nationals died. Other reports listed 22 Libyans as well as British and South African nationals among the victims.
Mohamed Zidan, the Libyan transport minister the other dead included two Germans as well as passengers from Britain, France, Finland, the Philippines, South Africa and Zimbabwe, but he did not give a breakdown on the numbers.
All but 11 of the people on board were transit passengers - many of them on their way to European destinations via Libya.
An airport official in Johannesburg said 42 of the passengers were booked to Dusseldorf in Germany, 32 to Brussels, seven to London and one to Paris.
"Everybody is dead, except for one child," Zidan, told a news conference at Tripoli airport.
The injured boy was reported to be in a stable condition at the al-Sabia hospital, where he was being treated for broken bones and bruising.
Libyan state media reported that 96 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage and efforts were under way to identify them.
Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, said he was shocked at the news and expressed his government's sympathy for relatives of the victims.
Dutch embassy officials in Libya were at the scene, gathering information and providing assistance, the prime minister said.
The French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) said two of its investigators and five Airbus specialists were on their way to Tripoli to join the investigation.
In London, the Foreign Office said a number of Britons were feared dead.
"We have got a consular team at the airport who are urgently seeking information," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
Black box found
Saleh Ali Saleh, head of the airline's legal department, told Reuters news agency by telephone that the plane's black boxes had been recovered from the crash site.
"The deaths were probably due to the impact as I did not hear any report of a fire. The plane was travelling fast as it was still short of the runway when it crashed," Saleh said.
|An 8-year-old Dutch boy is the only survivor of the plane crash [AFP]
Planemaker Airbus issued a statement confirming it had manufactured the plane involved in the crash. "Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the authorities responsible for the investigation into the accident," it said.
The crashed aircraft was delivered from the production line in September 2009 and had accumulated about 1,600 flight hours in around 420 flights, Airbus said.
The aircraft is the same type as the Air France flight 447that crashed in the Atlantic last year, on June 1. The cause of that crash has not been firmly identified.
Afriqiyah Airways executives said the crash was the first in the history of the airline, which was established in 2001.
Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa said the passengers' list has not been released yet.
"Authorities are trying to get solution to help friends and families, but the key thing is to know what nationalities are on the list. In the beginning it was difficult to get any information, but things are moving slowly now."
Chris Yates, an aviation analyst, who talked to Al Jazeera from Manchester, UK said the fact that the aircraft is new makes the incident sort of mysterious.
"We are trying to put the picture together. There are two black boxes. One records data and one records voices and conversation with ground operations. There are a lot of data," Yates said.
"We are taking maintenance issues into consideration, but we can't rule out anything right now. It will take days until we have definite answers."