Over 100 dead in Madrid plane crash: Officials (Third Lead)

August 21st, 2008 - 1:11 am ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Aug 20 (DPA) More than 100 people died Wednesday when a Spanair flight broke apart after it veered off the runway at the Madrid-Barajas airport and burst into flames, the Spanish health ministry said.The number of injured has been revised down to around 25 people out of the 164 passengers and nine crew members on board.

According to rescue services, the Spanair MD-82 aircraft broke apart after it veered off the runway during take off and burst into flames.

The flight was to take off at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT) for Gran Canaria but this was aborted due to a technical problem.

The crash occurred around 2.45 p.m. (1245 GMT) during the second attempt, according to a report from the daily El Pais.

Following the incident, the airport was immediately closed to all traffic. Shortly thereafter, takeoffs and landings resumed on a limited basis.

Spanair is currently facing financial difficulties, with Scandinavian parent company SAS reportedly trying to find a buyer for the ailing airline. Spanair is in the process of reducing staff by a third as well as the number of routes it operates.

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