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Reports say at least 18 survivors of plane crash

The state-run Libyan news agency has quoted government officials as saying 18 people have survived the crash of a Swiss-owned aeroplane. 15 of the more than 40 people on board the Shorts 360-300 aircraft (type shown above) are believed to have died.

The state-run Libyan news agency has quoted government officials as saying 18 people have survived the crash of a Swiss-owned aeroplane. 15 of the more than 40 people on board the Shorts 360-300 aircraft are believed to have died.

The plane - which belonged to the Swiss firm, Avisto - crashed into the sea as it tried to land near Libya's main oil town of Marsa al-Brega. It had taken off from the capital, Tripoli.

"According to our information, the plane made an emergency landing in the water for unknown reasons shortly before landing in Marsa al-Brega," Avisto said in a statement. Reports said both the plane's engines failed.

Avisto, which is based in Oberglatt in canton Zurich, said 41 people were on board. It said the passengers worked on the oil rigs in the Gulf of Sirte.

Reports said 16 of those on board were Libyans, 13 British, two were Canadians, three each from India, Croatia and the Philippines and one from Pakistan.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry confirmed that there were no Swiss nationals on the plane.

The Transport Ministry said an expert from the air accident investigation bureau was heading for Libya to look into the crash. Libya is responsible for the investigation.

Avisto said its Shorts 360-300 could hold a maximum of 38 passengers and three crew members. The plane had been leased to the Sirte Oil Company to transport workers between its headquarters in Marsa el Brega and various oilfields.

Avisto specialises in aircraft maintenance and concentrates its operations in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Shorts 360-300, built in Belfast, is considered to be a basic, workhorse plane with a good safety record.

The accident comes three days after a plane belonging to the Swiss regional airline, Crossair, crashed shortly after taking off from Zurich airport, resulting in the loss of ten lives.

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