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Leader
25 Dec 03,, 17:43
Plane crashes into Atlantic off Benin
Dozens of passengers reported killedBREAKING NEWS

Updated: 11:18 a.m. ET Dec. 25, 2003
This is a developing story and details will be added as they become available.COTONOU, Benin - A Boeing passenger plane bound for Beirut crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after takeoff in the West African country of Benin on Thursday, killing dozens of passengers, according to witnesses and airport officials.

Witnesses said they saw at least 30 bodies strewn on the beach near the airport in the main city Cotonou, where the plane crashed just after takeoff in the Gulf of Guinea.

It was not immediately clear which airline was involved but witnesses said most of the bodies recovered appeared to be Lebanese. There is a large Lebanese community in West Africa.

Airport officials said the plane had problems retracting its landing gear after takeoff, smashed into a building at the end of the runway, exploded and then crashed into the sea.

Airport officials said the flight originated in Conakry, capital of the West African nation Guinea, and was travelling to Beirut via Dubai.

Sixty-three passengers boarded in Cotonou but the total number of passengers was not immediately clear.

Rescue workers were searching the sea after the crash.

In December 1995 about 60 people were killed when a Cameroon airliner on a flight from Cotonou crashed into a swamp in Cameroon.

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