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Air Mali Plane Crash Kills 50

February 22, 1985

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) _ A Soviet-built passenger plane operated by Air Mali crashed Friday soon after taking off from the airport at Timbuktu, killing all but one of the 51 people aboard, officials at the airline’s headquarters here reported.

They said about a dozen foreigners were among the dead, but the airline did not release the passenger list and the officials said the nationalities of the foreign victims were not immediately known.

The twin turbo-prop Antonov-24, a 50-seat craft, was en route from Gao in the eastern part of this Saharan nation to the capital of Bamako via Timbuktu and Mopti.

Timbuktu, a Sahara Desert caravan terminal at the northern bend of the Niger River, is Mali’s second largest city.

The airplane took off on the 40-minute, 150-mile flight to Mopti shortly before 8 a.m. and crashed minutes later, apparently when one of its engines failed, Radio Mali reported.

An investigation commission headed by Air Mali’s director went to the scene, officials said.

It was the second crash of an Antonov-24 this year. On Jan. 18, an Antonov- 24 belonging to China’s national airline, CAAC, crashed during a landing attempt at Jinan in eastern China, killing 38 people including two Americans.

The Antonov 24 was introduced in 1960 and a total of about 1,100 were made before production stopped in 1978.

The last major plane crash in Africa was on Aug. 31, 1984, when a Cameroon Airlines Boeing 737 caught fire as it prepared for takeoff at Douala. Twenty- four people perished in the blaze and 72 were injured.

There were three plane crashes in Africa during 1983, including that of a Boeing 737 belonging to the Angolan airline TAAG at Lubango airport on Nov. 8 in which 126 people died.

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