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1998: All feared dead in Swissair crash
A Swissair plane flying from New York to Geneva has crashed in the sea off the coast of Nova Scotia, just over an hour after taking off.

A spokesman for Swissair confirmed there were 229 people on board the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft.

The cause of the crash is not yet clear, but US intelligence sources said they had no reason to suspect terrorism.

The Canadian authorities immediately launched a rescue operation but the chance of anyone surviving is said to be low.

According to rescue services, the pilot of flight SR-111 reported smoke in the cabin and requested an emergency landing at about 2115 local time (0115 BST).

Spluttering noises

Air traffic controllers directed him to Halifax International airport, but shortly after they lost radio contact and the plane disappeared from radar screens.

An airport worker said the crew had dumped fuel in St Margaret's Bay in preparation for the emergency landing.

Witnesses in the Halifax area reported hearing spluttering noises before a huge explosion.

"It was the worst-sounding deep groan that I've ever heard," said one local resident.

The chief financial officer of Swissair's parent company SAirGroup, George Schorderet, said the plane had been overhauled last year.

"It was in perfect working order", he said.

This is the company's first crash since 1979, when a Swissair DC-8 overshot the runway at Athens and burst into flames, killing 14 people.

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Swissair MD11 tailfin
The airline previously had a very good safety record


In Context
All 229 passengers and crew were killed in what was the worst crash in Swissair's history.

Ten UN officials were among the fatalities, including Jonathan Mann, the founding director of the World Health Organisation's global Aids programme.

It is believed the fire which caused the crash was the result of faulty wiring in the cockpit.

Stories From 3 Sep


 
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