113 die as Concorde crashes in Paris

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The Independent Online

An Air France Concorde has crashed shortly after take-off from Paris killing 109 people on board and four more on the ground.

An Air France Concorde has crashed shortly after take-off from Paris killing 109 people on board and four more on the ground.

One person on the plane, bound for New York from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, appeared to have survived the disaster. The dead passengers on board the plan, all German tourists, consisted of 47 men, 50 women and three children.

Flight AF4590 plunged into the Hotel Lessemo in Gonesse, just north of the capital at 4.44pm local time. Unconfirmed reports suggest that among those feared dead at the hotel are two Polynesian students and a French chambermaid.

Eye witnesses said that the plane was "trailing flames" from a port engine as it neared the ground.

Sid Hare, a Federal Express pilot staying in a nearby hotel told CNN that the hotel hit by the plane was ablaze with smoke pouring from the crash site. "It was a sickening site, like a mini atomic bomb." he said

He described opening his hotel window after he heard a jet making noise "two to three times" the normal noise. He saw smoke trailing two hundred feet behind the plane as it tried to gain altitude. "It was about 200 feet above the ground and I knew it was in trouble. The pilot tried to get the nose up to gain altitude, but then the plane went straight up and stalled and it then crashed," said Mr Hare.

"To me it is pretty obvious that it was caused by a catastrophic engine failure on the port side." he added.

A total of 13 Concorde are in service, seven with British Airways and six with Air France. Today's incident is the first occasion on which a Concorde has crashed while carrying passengers. The plane involved first went into service in October 1980.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said it had no intention of grounding the Concordes flown by British Airways.

"It would be improper to take any action until the French investigation reveals the preliminary findings." said a CAA spokeswoman.

"We're going to continue working closely with British Airways and British Aerospace with the UK-registered aircraft."

Yesterday British Airways grounded one of its seven Concordes after discovering cracks in the wings of the aircraft but insisted there was no danger to passengers.

Authorities have opened an emergency line for concerned relatives: 00 33 1 48 62 49 49.

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