Greek official dies in air turbulence

GREECE'S DEPUTY foreign minister and five other people were killed last night when the aeroplane they were travelling in suddenly lost altitude, though it later landed safely, said Ioan Anastasescu, a Romanian Foreign Ministry official.

The minister, Yiannos Kranidiotis, and the other passengers appear to have suffocated, or possibly suffered heart attacks, when their aircraft suddenly depressurised and rapidly lost altitude over Romania, according to television reports.

Romanian Transport Minister Traian Basescu said the aircraft encountered heavy turbulence which appears to have caused the accident. Five other Passengers were hospitalised, with the pilot the only person on board escaping unscathed. He landed the plane safely after regaining control.

The Greek delegation was on its way to Bucharest for a meeting of Balkan countries when the government-owned Falcon executive jet dropped from 23,000ft to 4,000ft. Among the dead reported by Greek media were Kranidiotis's son, the plane's mechanic and two journalists accompanying the deputy minister. (AP)