At least 17 people died today when a small airliner crashed in fog as it made its final approach to a Luxembourg airport.
The five survivors were said to be in a critical conditions.
The Luxair turboprop Fokker-50 was on a regular flight from Berlin’s Tempelhof airport carrying 19 passengers and three when it crashed six miles short of Findel airport in bad weather.
“We have 17 fatalities. One of the survivors who got out, died when arriving at hospital,” said police spokesman Vic Reuter.
Rescue workers took over three hours to free the injured pilot trapped in the cockpit. A Luxair official said he was eventually taken to hospital, but his condition was not known.
“This is a true nightmare for all concerned,” said Luxair chief Christian Heinzmann.
Luxembourg Transport Minister Henri Grethen said he expected most casualties to be Germans from Berlin travelling to the Grand Duchy.
He said the control tower had received no distress signals from flight LG9642/LH2420 before it lost contact.
The Fokker, which had been in service since 1991, crashed in a farmer’s field between the villages of Roodt-Syr and Niederanven. The side of the plane was ripped open.
Prime Minster Jean-Claude Juncker immediately rushed to the scene of the accident.
The plane crashed five minutes before the scheduled landing. Findel airport was immediately closed and incoming planes were diverted to other airports in Germany and Belgium.
The area where the plane crashed north-east of Luxembourg city is one of gently rolling hills covered with woods and farmland. Early morning fog in Luxembourg is a common occurrence in November.
It was the second big plane accident in two decades in the Grand Duchy, a nation of 380,000 people wedged among Germany, Belgium and France.
In September 1982, 10 people were killed when a Soviet-made IL-62 skidded off a runway at Luxembourg’s airport and crashed into a grove of trees.