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Four injured as cargo plane splits in two on take-off in Belgium

An American Kalitta air cargo plane drove off the runway during take-off at Brussels's Zaventem airport yesterday and broke in two but there were no casualties, airport and fire brigade officials said.

"The accident happened during take-off of the plane, which was going from Brussels to Bahrain," a Zaventem airport spokeswoman said. "We don't know what caused it, there is an investigation under way."

The Boeing 747 aircraft's five crew all escaped via an inflatable emergency slide, fire brigade spokesman Francis Boileau said. Four of them had minor injuries.

Boileau said apart from its cargo of cars and equipment, the jet was full of fuel. He said the plane came to a halt some 200 metres (650 feet) from the runway and only 10 metres (30 feet) from a railway line.

"There was a danger of an explosion just after the accident because it was full of kerosene, about 100 tonnes of it, and there was a big leak when it broke," Boileau said, adding the fire brigade had secured the leak in 30 minutes.

"We see from the tracks on the runway that the pilot tried to stop the aircraft because he understood he could not bring it up into the air, and he drove it off the runway," Boileau said.

The Kalitta Air company's website says it is a Michigan Limited Liability Company owned by Conrad Kalitta. It started in November 2000 with three Boeing 747 aircraft and the fleet has grown to a present total of 18 B 747 freighters.