The Boeing fell into Guinea bay shortly after taking off Benin commerce capital airport belonged to a Lebanon charter company “UTA”. The Lebanese flew from Cotonou to their homeland for holidays. According to various sources, there were 156 to 253 people onboard. Death toll reached 111.
Airport crew claim after taking off, the aircraft experienced problems with chassis, after what it hit a building of a runway, exploded and fell into the sea. Benin authorities report the plane was overloaded. This could be a possible cause of tragedy.
At least 24 people survived the accident; however 4 died in hospital later. According to one of doctors, survivors told “the plane took off with great difficulty, then they heard a great noise and the aircraft started falling apart”.
UTA was formed in 1998, it does charter flights between Lebanon, Africa and UAE. The airport officials say the aircraft flew from Conakry (a capital of Guinea). After Cotonou it was to land in Dubai and then fly to Beirut.
Rescue teams continue search for victims of the catastrophe. Local fishermans help them taking bodies out of the water, other people joined too.
Benin President Mathieu Kereku was at the spot together with defense minister, internal affairs minister and transportation minister, accompanied by the major of Cotonou. In the evening the spot was closed by police.
The cabin was taken out of the water. Other parts of the aircraft are still being taken out by rescue and fire squads.
This is the third big air crash in Africa this year.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18