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Pilot dies at controls on flight to US

A pilot on a Continental Airlines flight from Brussels to Newark died in mid-flight yesterday, but its 247 passengers landed safely in New Jersey under the control of two co-pilots.

The 60-year-old pilot of the Boeing 777, who had worked for Continental for 32 years, apparently suffered a heart attack in mid-air. Passengers were aware that someone had been taken ill after a call was made over the public address system asking for doctors on the flight to make themselves known, but they were not told who it was that required treatment.

Dr Julien Struyven, a 72-year-old cardiologist and radiologist from Brussels, answered the call but was unable to save the pilot. "He was not alive," Dr Struyven told the Associated Press. He used a defibrillator in an attempt at resuscitation, but said that there was "no chance at all" of reviving him.

In a statement released last night, Continental said: "The captain of Continental flight 61, which was en route from Brussels to Newark, died in flight, apparently of natural causes. The crew on this flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased pilot. The flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls."