A Libyan military plane carrying doctors and patients crashed Friday due to an apparent engine failure near Tunisia’s capital of Tunis, killing all 11 passengers and crew on board, media reports said citing local authorities.
According to reports, the Antonov plane went down after the pilot tried to land in farmland near the Grombalia region, about 30 miles southeast of Tunis, and burst into flames.
"The plane crashed... with 11 people on board -- three doctors, two patients and six crew members," Mongi El Kadhi, an emergency services spokesman, reportedly said. But, there has been no word about the identities of the passengers who died in the crash.
Defense spokesman Tawfik Rahmouni told a state news agency that the plane's last communication, stating that the plane’s engines had caught fire, was made to the Tunis-Carthage International Airport before contact was lost.
Army units, a military medical team and civil protection services reportedly rushed to the scene to put out the fire and extract the bodies. The Libyan flag was still visible on the tail of the plane amid the burnt wreckage.
A team of investigators at the crash site managed to recover the black box flight recorder to establish the cause of the apparent engine failure. Sofiene Bejaoui, an air-traffic control official, said the aircraft was a Soviet-designed twin-propeller Antonov-26.
“The plane is a Libyan air force Antonov-26, registration number Five Alpha Delta Oscar Whiskey,” Bejaoui reportedly said.
This is the second crash involving a military plane in North Africa in the past two weeks. An Algerian military transport plane crashed into a mountain due to bad weather conditions on Feb. 11, killing about 77 people, making it the country’s worst air disaster in a decade.