A four-engined Belgian airliner crashed during an emergency landing today killing 65 out of 69 people on board.
A four-engined Belgian airliner crashed during an emergency landing today killing 65 out of 69 people on board. A desperate last-minute effort by the pilot to pull up failed when his engines did not respond to the throttle.
The four persons who survived managed to rip off their safety belts and plunge through the hatch of the plane only seconds before it exploded in a tower of flame. At least eight of the dead were children. Most of the passengers were Belgian returning to the Belgian Congo from vacation in Belgium.
The plane was on route from Brussels to Leopoldville. After taking off from Lisbon, the pilot radiced that on of his engines was vibrating and he was coming into Casablanca for an emergency landing. Eyewitnesses said that as he nosed down toward the runway he apparently realised the approach was bad and attempted to get the nose up for a second approach. One of his engines was out and, it is reported, a second engine apparently failed to respond when the pilot tried to get power to overshoot and go round again.
The plane, A DC7, missed the runway, smashed through a military installation building and hurtled another 50 yards before smashing into another airport structure and bursting into flame.
Firemen and rescue workers, alerted that the plane was making an emergency landing, were on the spot almost immediately. The pilot had jettisoned most of his fuel before coming in.
The plane carried 60 passengers and nine crew. It had disembarked some at Lisbon and others had boarded there. The next scheduled landing of the plane was to have been at Kano in Nigeria.
Wreckage was scattered over a wide area. The fuselage was all that received intact through most of the careering crash, but only the rear portain remained after the fire was put out. It took firemen two hours to get the blaze under control. Heavy smoke hung over the area and intense heat threatened other installations nearby.
The first building that the aircraft hit contained some of the airport's firefighting equipment and this was destroyed.