By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 21 February 2014:
A Libyan military air ambulance aircraft has crashed in Tunisia killing all 11 people on board.
The . . .[restrict]plane, an Antonov 26, which had taken off from Tripoli Mitiga Airbase, crashed at 2.02 am local time (12.02 GMT) at Nianou, near Grombalia, some 40 kilometres south-east of Tunis. Two patients, three people accompanying them, a doctor and five flight crew members died.
A senior official with the air ambulance told the Libya Herald that bad wealther was believed to be responsible. However, according to the Tunisian new agency TAP, a spokesman for the Tunisian Interior Ministry has said that the plane’s pilot in his last communication with the control tower at Tunis Carthage Airport, has said that an engine had caught fire.
One of the three people accompanying the patients was reported to have been a senior member of Ansar Al-Sharia. The Libyan Embassy in Tunis, however, has denied that anyone connected to Al-Qaeda was on board, according to the Libyan news agency LANA.
According to the air ambulance official, the aircraft was over 30 years old but continued to be used because, despite requests, there was no funding to replace it.
The Presidency of General Staff, which is in ultimate charge of the air ambulance unit, has sent its condolences to the victims’ families, as has the President of Congress, Nuri Abu Sahmain. The Italian Foreign Minister, Emma Bonino, has also sent a message to the Libyan authorise expressing sadness at the news and expressing Italy’s continued support for the Libyan people.
The government is setting up an investigation and is meanwhile awaiting reports from the Tunisian authorities. [/restrict]