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60 dead in Equatorial Guinea plane crash
Updated: 2005-07-18 07:51

MALABO (AFP) - Sixty people were killed when a Russian-built Antonov plane crashed in flames in Equatorial Guinea shortly after takeoff from the capital Malabo, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said.

A file photo of the Antonov-24 passenger plane.
In a radio message to the nation, Obiang declared a three-day period of national mourning following Saturday's crash which, he said, had killed mostly young Equatorial Guineans and women.

The plane, which went down on a domestic flight in thick jungle, "was completely destroyed, burned and there were no survivors," national radio announced earlier, playing somber music as it reported the news.

Thousands of distraught family and friends besieged Malabo airport and later the hospital after the confirmation of the crash.

"Our people are going through the worst moments of grief, consternation and sadness ever known in their history," Obiang declared.

"This tragedy affected many families to whom we send our condolences ... and our solidarity," the president continued.

At first the government had said a total of 55 people were on the ageing 48-seater Antonov-24, while the operating company, the private airline Ecuatair, said its records showed there were 35 passengers and 10 crew.
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