An Air Senegal plane carrying mostly European tourists crashed on takeoff in this West African country Saturday, killing at least 20 people, most of them French. At least 30 people were injured.
The flight was leaving the central city of Tambacounda en route to the capital, Dakar, about 250 miles west, when it crashed, according to state-run radio and the French government.
In Paris, Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Yves Doutriaux said an engine apparently malfunctioned.
“After taking off, the aircraft crashed on the tarmac and burst into flames,” a witness told Dakar Radio. The witness said the injured were thrown clear when the plane hit the runway at Tambacounda airport.
The head of Air Senegal, which operated the tourist charter to a wildlife park east of the town of Tambacounda, told state television that 17 of the dead were French nationals. Television reports said two crew members and Vladimir Vieira, the son of the president of neighboring Guinea-Bissau, also were killed in the crash.
Tambacounda is the airport for the Niokolo-Koba National Park, which is on the way to the border with Guinea-Bissau.
Senegal is a favorite vacation destination for tourists from France and Germany.