The Spanish authorities have begun an inquiry into the country’s worst plane crash in more than a decade.
Investigators have begun scouring the wreckage of the budget airline jet which broke up and burst into flames after failing to take off from Madrid airport on Wednesday. As many as 153 people are known to have died.
Spanair flight JK5022 was bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Only 19 of the 175 passengers and crew members aboard survived.
A local source said the flight was due to take off at 1pm, but after taxiing to the runway it returned to its stand with a mechanical fault. Spanish media said the plane’s left engine burst into flames on the second departure attempt.
The country’s development minister said there appeared to have been an “error in take-off”. Officials said the 15-year-old MD-82 jet had passed its annual inspection last year. They hope its black boxes will provide some clues as to the cause of the tragedy.