Thirty-one people are believed to have died when a Viking aircraft carrying troops to Tripoli, Libya, crashed and burst into flames after taking off last night from Blackbushe Airport (Hampshire).
Four soldiers, believed to be the only survivors, were taken to Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot. Early today 29 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage.
A Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation spokesman said there was a crew of five and 30 passengers, including 25 troops, two War Departmental civilians, a mother and two children.
The spokesman said the aircraft crashed about two miles from the airfield. It belonged to Eagle Aviation Ltd.
The plane crashed into some trees on the main road. Sixty pine trees were smashed like matches as the plane ploughed its way into them.
A number of lorry drivers stopped to give a hand and one of them, Arthur O’Connor, said: “I do not want to see a sight like that again. The bodies were charred beyond recognition.”
[A total of 34 people died in the Blackbushe Viking accident, with just the one survivor.]