PARIS — An Air France Concorde airliner carrying German tourists crashed after takeoff from Paris Tuesday, killing 109 people on board and four more on the ground for a total of 113, a fire service spokesman said.
One person on the plane, bound for New York from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with 100 German tourists, appeared to have survived the disaster, the spokesman, Philippe Lavoil, told Reuters.
The flight was chartered by upmarket German tour operator Peter Deilmann Reederei GmbH & Co. Deilmann, based in the northern town of Neustadt in Holstein, specializes in luxury cruises.
There was no word on the cause of the crash, the first involving the supersonic Anglo-French aircraft.
Witnesses reported seeing a huge ball of fire trailing from a left rear engine of the plane as it took off on the transatlantic flight.
The plane crashed in the town of Gonesse, just southwest of the airport, where Lavoil said four people had been killed. Conflicting initial reports said the plane had either hit a 72-bedroom hotel or crashed right beside it.
A pilot for the FedEx courier company told CNN from a hotel near Charles de Gaulle airport that he saw flames trailing two to three hundred feet from the left engines of Concorde about 200 feet above ground.
He said the plane failed to gain altitude, stalled, rolled over and slid to the ground in a huge fireball "like a mini atomic bomb."
Air France said the plane had been carrying 100 passengers and 10 crew.
"Air France announces that one of its Concordes crashed on take-off from Roissy Charles de Gaulle at 1644 local time (8:44 a.m. MDT)," an Air France statement said.
"Flight AF 4590 was chartered by the German tour operator Deilmann. All the passengers were German and were on their way to New York to join a cruise," the statement said.
Air France and British Airways both said Monday they had detected microscopic cracks in the wings of Concorde aircraft but Air France said there was no danger to passengers.
Concorde, an Anglo-French project, entered service in the mid-1970s and is the world's only supersonic passenger aircraft. A total of 13 are in service, seven with British Airways and six with Air France.