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No technical fault in Libya jet crash: investigators


Rescue workers examine the debris of Afriqiyah airline flight 8U771 at Tripoli airport May 12, 2010. All but one of the 104 passengers and crew of the Libyan Airbus A330-200 plane crash on Wednesday were killed, a Libyan security source at Tripoli airport told Reuters. REUTERS/Libyan TV via Reuters TV
Rescue workers examine the debris of Afriqiyah airline flight 8U771 at Tripoli airport May 12, 2010. All but one of the 104 passengers and crew of the Libyan Airbus A330-200 plane crash on Wednesday were killed, a Libyan security source at Tripoli airport told Reuters. REUTERS/Libyan TV via Reuters TV

By Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Investigators have so far found no evidence that mechanical failure caused an Airbus aircraft to crash in Libya this month killing 103 people, a Libyan commission studying the crash said.

The Airbus A330 operated by Libya's Afriqiyah Airways crashed on May 12 as it prepared to land at Tripoli airport after a flight from Johannesburg, killing everyone on board except a nine-year-old Dutch boy.

"There is no sign indicating a technical failure in the plane before the incident, according to data recovered up until now from the two black boxes," commission chief Naji Dhaw said in a statement setting out investigators' preliminary conclusions that was seen by Reuters on Sunday.

Dhaw told Reuters the investigation was continuing into why the almost new aircraft crashed, and it could be some time before his commission was ready to present its final conclusions.

The commission of investigation also ruled out an explosion or fire on board the plane before the crash and said there was no evidence it was caused by an act of terrorism.

NO MAY-DAY CALL

The commission also said there was no evidence a lack of fuel was a factor, and that there was nothing to indicate that the pilot had radioed the control tower before the crash to request technical or medical assistance.

The statement added: "The crew was qualified to work on this type of aircraft. It had operated more than one flight on this route and authorizations for the crew were valid."

The Airbus A330 had been in service for only eight months when it crashed, and it had passed three routine inspections by European aviation safety agencies.

The victims included 70 Dutch citizens. Nationals from Libya, South Africa, Britain, Austria, Germany, Zimbabwe and France were also killed, the airline said.

The only survivor was nine-year-old Ruben von Assouw, from the southern Dutch city of Tilburg, who was returning from a safari holiday in South Africa with his family.

He was treated in a Tripoli hospital for bone fractures, and was then flown home in an air ambulance after being told that his parents and 11-year-old brother had died in the crash.

(Additional reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Writing by Christian Lowe; editing by Tim Pearce)

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