A police photographer inspects the scene of a tourist plane
crash which killed five people at Belgium's Charleroi
airport. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet
A small passenger plane has crashed at Belgium's
Charleroi airport, killing five people and closing the
international hub used by Ryanair for six hours just as
thousands of people were due to go away on holiday.
The aircraft, a Cessna, had problems on takeoff and tried to
return to Charleroi to make an emergency landing but crashed
on the side of the runway, airport officials said.
"There was a problem on takeoff and they tried to come back,
but unfortunately the plane crashed," said Melissa Milioto,
an airport spokeswoman. "Five people were killed."
Firefighters sprayed water on the plane that was reduced to a
wreck of twisted metal, with only the tail still visible, TV
The airport was closed immediately after the crash, which
happened just before 10am (local time), and reopened at 4pm
after an investigation on the runway was completed.
Ryanair, which is the heaviest user of the airport, said it
cancelled four departures and diverted inbound flights due to
the accident that happened at the start of the Belgian school
half-term holiday, when many families go abroad to ski.
Charleroi airport, also known as Brussels South Charleroi,
serves as the country's second international airport after
Brussels' Zaventem airport and expects to handle 140,000
passengers over the half-term holiday period.
Airport officials said the five killed were three young
children, their mother and grandfather - who was also the
pilot of the private aircraft - and were all Belgian
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo offered his condolences
to the family of the victims via his official Twitter