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The BBC's Jon Sopel
"About 100 people are thought to have been on board"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Concorde crashes near Paris

A Concorde jet bound for New York has crashed shortly after taking off from Paris, killing more than 100 people.

The Air France aircraft crashed in flames into a Relais Bleu hotel in the town of Gonesse north of the capital, two minutes after take-off from Charles de Gaulle airport.

After the crash, one eyewitness told reporters the annex of the hotel was "totally in flames".

The French Interior Ministry has confirmed that 100 passengers and nine crew were killed. At least four people on the ground have been killed.

Eyewitnesses said the aircraft was not able to gain sufficient altitude before it crashed.

"I saw the Concorde go by with its left side engine on fire and crash a bit further away, about two minutes after taking off," one witness told the French news agency AFP.

A spokesman for Air France said the flight had been specially chartered by the German tour operator Deilmann.

First crash

The crash is the first of the supersonic jet built by Britain and France.

It comes a day after British Airways confirmed hairline cracks had been discovered in the wings of all seven of its Concorde fleet.

The Concorde has been considered among the world's safest planes.

Its only major scare came in 1979, when a bad landing blew out a plane's tyres. The incident led to a design modification.

The first of the aircraft flew in 1969. Air France and British Airways operate 13 of the supersonic jets.

Air France officials have said in the past that their current fleet is fit to fly safely until 2007.

More details are still coming in.

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | UK
Q& A: Cracks in Concorde
09 Apr 99 | The Company File
Supersonic birthday
14 Sep 99 | UK Politics
'Ace' spy revealed Concorde secrets
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