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The BBC's James Robbins
"A series of massive explosions"
 real 56k

Hugh Schofield reports from the crash site
"Only a few recognisable pieces of the aircraft remain"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Shukman
"An aviation legend"
 real 56k

The BBC's Rob Broomby
"It was for many to have been the trip of a lifetime"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
Concorde crash kills 113
Concorde before crash
The plane came down trailing flames behind it
A Concorde jet bound for New York has crashed in a ball of fire shortly after taking off from Paris, killing 113 people.

The Air France aircraft crashed in flames into the Hotelissimo hotel in the town of Gonesse north of the capital, two minutes after taking-off from Charles de Gaulle airport shortly before 1700 local time (1500GMT).

All 100 passengers - most of them Germans - lost their lives, alongside nine crew members and four people who were killed on the ground.

Air France in Germany:
+49 89 97620
German Foreign Ministry:
+49 1888 17 4600;
+49 1888 17 4899
German Embassy in Paris:
+33 1 53 83 45 00
Eyewitnesses spoke of a huge fireball and dense clouds of black smoke after the plane hit the ground.

Following the crash, French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot ordered the Civil Aviation Authority to suspend all Air France Concorde flights pending an investigation.

Air France said the passengers were travelling on a flight to John F Kennedy airport specially chartered by German tour operator Deilmann.

They were on their way to join a cruise ship in New York bound for Ecuador.

When the plane crashed, there was a huge ball of fire and an enormous plume of black smoke


An emotional Peter Deilmann, who heads the tour company, told German TV he was "deeply shocked" by the disaster.

Within minutes of the crash, dozens of fire-engines and ambulances raced to the scene to tackle the blaze and search for survivors.

Sections of the Relais Bleu hotel had been reduced to rubble and twisted metal. The blackened hulk of the Concorde was barely recognisable.

Engine on fire

Air France confirmed that one of the plane's four engines had caught fire on take-off, minutes before the aircraft came down.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a fireball trailing from an engine on the aircraft's left-side, and that it was not able to gain sufficient altitude before it crashed.

Hotel debris
Parts of the hotel were reduced to burning rubble
"When the plane crashed, there was a huge ball of fire and an enormous plume of black smoke," one said.

Another told reporters the annex of the hotel was "totally in flames".

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has been visiting the scene and the German transport minister is on his way.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed his deepest condolences, saying: "Germany and France are united in their horror over the accident, in mourning for the victims and in sympathy for their families."

Plane inspected

Flight AF4590 is the first of the supersonic jets to crash.

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

Concorde facts
First plane flew in 1969
13 supersonic jets operated by BA and Air France
Flies above turbulence at almost 60,000 feet
Crosses Atlantic at 1,350mph in less than 3.5 hours
However, the head of Air France said Tuesday's crash was linked to an engine problem and apparently had nothing to do with the cracks.

A BBC correspondent in Paris says the plane was inspected only four days ago, and no problems were found. The Air France plane has been in operation since 1980 and has been subject to a number of inspections recently.

The Concorde has been considered among the world's safest planes since its launch in 1969.

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

Black box search

A spokesman for the French Civil Aviation Authority said it would not immediately ground the French Concorde fleet.

"It is too early to say what we are going to do," he said.

French investigators are searching for the plane's black box recorder which holds vital clues to the cause of the accident.

British Airways has cancelled two Concorde services scheduled for Tuesday night.

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25 Jul 00 | Europe
Crash hits Germans at home
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