SIX Zimbabweans and one South African were last night confirmed dead when a Ghanaian-registered Boeing 747 cargo jet crashed and burst into flames on take off from Halifax airport in east
ern Canada yesterday, police said.
The MK Airlines jet was taking off for Spain with a cargo of seafood when it ran into trouble. The tail section broke off near the end of the runway before the rest of the plane smashed into a nearby rock quarry.
Television images showed firefighters working amid the plane’s charred and twisted fuselage.
“We have recovered some of the remains at the scene…. we can confirm that all seven who were on board have passed away,” Canadian police spokesman Joe Taplin told reporters in Halifax.
Canadian officials said there were seven people on board but the airline’s managing director Wisdom Ametepe put the number at six.
Ametepe told Reuters in Accra that the crew had come from Zimbabwe and Britain. But a company spokesman in England said the crew had consisted of one South African and six Zimbabweans.
Investigators said it was too early to say what had happened but added they had no reason to believe an explosion had brought down the plane.
Bill Fowler of the Transportation Safety Board said a video of the accident scene seemed to show that part of the aircraft’s fuselage had come in contact with the runway.
“(The tail) left the aircraft relatively early … it is still within the confines, as I understand it, of the airport,” he told reporters.
“I haven’t any formal information that suggests there was an explosion.”
Ghanaian aviation officials said MK Airlines had been operating in Ghana since 1994 and had 16 planes registered in the former British colony.
Halifax airport was shut down after the accident but some flights resumed during the morning.
In Ottawa, federal Transport minister Jean Lapierre said government officials would check that the airline was complying with Canadian aviation regulations and the conditions of its air operator certificate.
The MK Airlines spokesman in England said the flight originated in New York with general freight and tractors. It flew to Halifax where it picked up fresh fish and was heading to Zaragoza in Spain to offload.