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Thursday, September 3, 1998 Published at 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK


Six Britons die in air crash

Only 36 bodies have so far been brought ashore

Six Britons were among the 229 people who died when a Swissair plane crashed en route from New York to Geneva.

The pilot of the Swissair jet had reported smoke in the cockpit and attempted an emergency landing before going down five miles off Nova Scotia in Canada.

No survivors

Swissair confirmed that there are no survivors of Flight 111, which crashed off the Canadian coast.

It had left New York's Kennedy International Airport at 8:17pm (0117 BST).

In a statement the airline said: "After a normal takeoff with regular radio contact, Captain Urs Zimmermann, 50, and First Officer Stephan Loew, 36, reported smoke in the cockpit.

"The experienced pilots and instructors changed course for Boston, but then decided to fly to Halifax.

"The MD-11 plunged into the sea shortly before Halifax."

[ image: Rescuers are still looking for bodies]
Rescuers are still looking for bodies
The Chief Executive of Swissair's parent group, Philippe Bruggisser, said in Geneva that 136 Americans were on board the airliner.

They were the largest single group among the 229 people on board.

Some 30 French and 28 Swiss citizens also were on board, Bruggisser said.

Six passengers were British, three each came from Germany and Italy and two from Greece, he continued.

There were also Saudi Arabian, Yugoslavian, Afghani, Iranian, Spanish and Russian passengers on board.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations in New York confirmed "at least" 10 UN staff were on board the jet.

Among the dead was the former head of the World Health Organisation's Aids programme, Jonathan Mann, and his wife, both Americans.

Thirteen Swissair crew members and one Delta crew member also lost their lives.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office has confirmed that six Britons died in the crash.

He added: "At present their details cannot be released until next of kin have been informed."

Full details of the crash are still emerging.

So far 36 bodies have been recovered in the water off the coast of Nova Scotia.

A crisis centre has been set up at Geneva airport.

Distraught relatives are being cared for by staff and councillors at the Kennedy and Geneva airports.

The full list of passengers on board Flight 111 has yet to be published.


Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton both offered their sympathies to the families during speeches on the future of Northern Ireland at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

White House spokesman PJ Crowley said: "We have no indication that terrorism was involved."

UN chief Kofi Annan said he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths.

The disaster is Swissair's worst since the company was founded in 1931.

The airline has suffered three other accidents resulting in 141 deaths. Two were in Switzerland in 1963 and 1970 and one in Athens in 1979.

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