He said Libyans, Africans and Europeans had been on board.

'No terror act'

"We have definitely ruled out the theory that the crash was the result of an act of terrorism," Zidan said.

Libya's Afriqiyah Airways said the aircraft was coming in to land when it crashed just one metre off the runway.

Libyan state television showed footage of a large field scattered with small and large pieces of plane debris and dozens of police and rescue workers with surgical masks and gloves.

Recent air crashes


 10 April 2010: Plane carrying Polish president, his wife and 94 others - including much of Poland's political establishment - crashes in western Russia, killing all on board.

 30 June 2009: Plane belonging to Yemeni state airline crashes off Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros with 153 people on board. A 13-year-old girl survives.

 1 June 2009: Air France Airbus plane travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappears in the Atlantic with 228 people on board.

 20 May 2009: Indonesian army C-130 Hercules transport plane crashes into a village on eastern Java, killing at least 97 people.

 12 February 2009: Plane crashes into a house in Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister, said "several dozen" Dutch citizens died in the accident.

The Dutch tourism federation said 61 Dutch nationals had been on board the plane, travelling in two separate organised tour
groups with a stopover in Tripoli.

Afriqiyah has posted a telephone number on its website for anyone seeking information about passengers.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg, where the aircraft departed from, said several South Africans appeared to have been on the plane.

"The airport authority is struggling to get a call centre in place but right now information is sketchy."

Amr El-Kahky, in Al Jazeera's Cairo office, said the weather conditions had been  perfect when the aircraft tried to touch down, with little wind and good visibility.

He also said Afriqiyah had a new fleet of aircraft which was said to be maintained "very well". 

Daniel Hoeltgen, a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency, said Afriqiyah had undergone 10 recent safety inspections at European airports, with no significant safety findings.

French investigators travelled to Tripoli on Wednesday to take part in the probe of the accident, the BEA air accident investigation agency said.

European plane-maker Airbus, which built the aircraft, also said it would dispatch experts as part of the French investigating team, the French-based firm said.

"Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the authorities responsible for the investigation into the accident through the BEA," the company said in a statement.

Wednesday's crash was the deadliest air accident in Libya since December, 1992, when a Libyan Arab Airlines plane crashed near Tripoli airport killing 157 people.