Plane ditches into sea near Sicily

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Saturday, August 6, 2005

file photo of an ATR-72

A plane crash 13 km from Palermo and 12 miles North East of Capo Gallo off the Sicilian coast killed at least 14 people.

A Tuninter flight was carrying 39 people (34 passengers and 5 crew members) when it went down near Sicily.

A magistrate of Palermo said there were 20 survivors.

The Tunisian ATR-72 airliner had taken off from Bari and is believed to have developed a technical fault. All the passengers are reportedly Italian.

Ten passengers have reached land in Palermo, a city on the southern Italian island of Sicily. "It's a miracle we're alive," a survivor said, according to Ansa.

The plane went into the sea after the captain asked for an emergency landing at Palermo Punta Raisi airport. When the captain realized he could not reach the airport, he was forced to crash-land the plane at sea. The captain Chafik Garbis told Ansa, "The engines have lost power and I have had to try to ditch."

Palermo, Sicily location

Most of the survivors have been injured, and the majority have signs of serious burns. The casualties from the crash were worsened due to a fire spreading out before, or just after, the plane ditched.

The wreck of the airplane was found broken in three parts.

The number of the fatalities is not yet clearly known. A member of the Italian aviation reported to the Italian Radio Rai while coming back to land from the area of the crash that some people are not yet found.

The Italian ANSV (Agenzia nazionale sicurezza al volo, or National Agency for Flight Safety) opened an investigation into the crash. It will also involve France (where the ATR planes were built) and Tunisia.

The Pubblico Ministero of Palermo (the judge who is in charge of investigation) said to the Italian television Rai, "Luckly, and this is the most important thing, we can exclude that it is due to a terrorism attack." He then added that the investigation has not yet formally started so he needs more time to be sure.


Sources in Italian