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Egyptian Plane Crashes in Tunisia

May 7, 2002

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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) _ An EgyptAir plane with 55 people aboard crashed Tuesday while trying to land near Tunis in bad weather, according to the airline and the national news agency. Ambulances rushed to the scene, and it appeared there were survivors.

Viewed from a distance, the plane, a Boeing 737, was resting on a hill in the area of a park about four miles from the Tunis-Carthage airport, and black smoke was rising from the site.

The control tower had lost contact with the plane a few seconds before the crash, just after a distress call from the pilot, according to the national news agency, TAP.

EgyptAir’s vice president for safety, Shaker Qilada, said 55 people were aboard the plane, which originated in Cairo. He indicated some people may have survived the crash.

``We have spoken to people on board″ since the crash, he told The Associated Press in Cairo.

Witnesses also said it appeared there were survivors. It was not clear if there were any deaths.

Weather was foggy and rainy at the time, with a sandy wind, called the ``khamsin,″ blowing from the Sahara desert.

On Oct. 31, 1999, an EgyptAir Boeing 767 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, killing all 217 people aboard.

Before 1999, it had been 23 years since EgyptAir had a major crash. In 1976, an EgyptAir plane crashed during approach to the Bangkok, Thailand airport, killing 72 passengers and crew members. In 1985, Egyptian troops stormed an EgyptAir plane being held by hijackers in Malta. Sixty passengers and crew were killed.

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