Macedonia air crash kills 79

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The Independent Online
SKOPJE (Reuter) - Up to 79 people were feared killed yesterday when a Fokker 100 passenger plane hurtled to the ground and exploded soon after taking off for Zurich from the Macedonian capital.

Controllers at Skopje's Petrovec airport said the jet, propelled by two Rolls-Royce turbofan engines and leased by the Macedonian company Palair, 'fell out of the sky' and plunged 1,300 feet to the ground one minute after it took off just after noon.

About 75 bodies were thought to be in the wreckage of the aircraft, which had 91 passengers and six crew. Four other people died in hospital and five of the remaining 18 survivors were in critical condition.

Twisted wreckage from the aircraft lay blackened and smouldering in the field where it came down. One corpse amid the scattered debris was covered in a green tarpaulin. Firemen hosed down the wreckage of the fuselage as light snow fell.

Pavle Trajanov, the deputy interior minister of Macedonia, said the plane exploded after it hit the ground. He added that it had banked to port during take- off. Both flight recorders had been recovered and the cause was being investigated.

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