Aircraft collision on Milan runway kills 118 people

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The Independent Online

A Scandinavian passenger jet roaring down the runway crashed into a private aeroplane that was preparing for take-off at a Milan airport, killing all 114 people on board the two planes. Four airport workers also died as the airliner swerved into a baggage-handling depot.

Italian authorities swiftly ruled out terrorism as the cause of the accident, which occurred in thick early morning fog at Linate airport.

The Italian Interior Ministry said that a combination of human error and bad weather was to blame for the worst air disaster in Italian history, and one that blotted the record of the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS).

But union officials said that the accident could have been avoided if the ground radar system, which has been out of order for the past year, had been working properly.

The SAS MD-87, laden with fuel, was speeding down the runway for take-off to Copenhagen, with 104 passengers and six crew on board when it crashed into the Cessna jet. The small plane, with four aboard, had entered the take-off runway by mistake, having been directed by air traffic control to taxi to a different runway, the Interior Ministry said.

The larger aircraft spun out of control, hitting three buildings before crashing into the baggage-handling hangar.

The Cessna Citation II jet was destroyed in the crash. Fifty-six passengers on board the SAS aircraft were Italians and 16 were Danes.