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Libya: Charter Plane Crashes

A plane transporting oil workers from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to an offshore oil platform crashed in the sea Thursday with 41 aboard, officials said, adding there were unconfirmed reports of fatalities.

The plane, which belongs to the Avisto AG air services company, a Swiss company based in Zurich, went down this afternoon. It was carrying 38 passengers, apparently all oil workers, and three crew members.

Swiss Transportation Ministry spokesman Hugo Schittenhelm said he had received unconfirmed reports that 15 people were killed. He said the plane apparently crashed after both engines failed.

The aircraft took off from Tripoli, according to Swiss air crash investigation authorities, and crashed into the Mediterranean.

The nationalities of the passengers were not immediately known, but Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Livio Zanolari said he understood there were no Swiss among the victims.

The Swiss air accident investigation bureau, which confirmed the crash, said it would send an expert to Libya on Friday to investigate.

Air traffic officials identified the plane as belonging to Avisto, a company that specializes in aircraft maintenance and repair. It concentrates its operations in North Africa and the Middle East, and operates service flights to oil platforms.

It was not clear what the plane was doing when it went down. Calls to Avisto's headquarters were not answered.

On Monday, a twin-engine airplane belonging to the Swiss regional airline Crossair crashed in a field shortly after leaving Zurich's main airport en route to Dresden, Germany, killing all 10 people aboard.

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