"We express our sincere regret and sadness and on behalf of the airline as well we would like to express our condolences to the relatives and friends on flight 8U771," Nicky Knapp, spokesperson for ACSA, the South African company that manages its major airports, told reporters in Johannesburg today.
Libyan television showed pictures of emergency workers sifting through the debris of the plane. Footage indicates that the plane virtually disintegrated with only a chunk of the tail intact.
Airbus issued a statement confirming it had manufactured the plane involved in the crash. "Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the authorities responsible for the investigation into the accident," it said.
Plane crashes are not uncommon in Africa U.S. and international aviation experts estimate that airplanes in Africa are 15 times more likely to crash on average than in North America.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office report from June of last year highlighted the fact that only four countries in all of Africa have airport and airline safety standards meeting the requirements to receive the most favorable rating by the Federal Aviation Administration; North African countries of Egypt and Morocco, the tiny island West African country of Cape Verde and South Africa make the cut.
Reuters, The Associated Press and Ammu Kannampilly contributed to the reporting of this story.