21 Aug 2008

Crash toll rises

9:36 am on 21 August 2008

A total of 153 people are feared dead in the crash of a passenger jet on take-off in Spain.

An MD-82 plane shot off the runway and burst into flames at Madrid's international airport at 2:45pm local time (1245 GMT) on Wednesday.

It was carrying 166 passengers and nine crew to the Canary Islands, a popular holiday destination.

Thick columns of smoke rose into the air and police blocked off both ends of the runway.

Local reports say the jet had been leaving late, after being delayed.

The plane was operated by Spanair, which is owned by Scandinavian Airlines Systems.

The flight was a code-sharing operation with Lufthansa serving the Canary Islands.

The MD-82 is made by Boeing Co.