2 dead, 5 missing in Air New Zealand crash

air new zealand crashPARIS — Seven passengers were feared dead after an Air New Zealand airliner crashed off France’s southern coast on Thursday. Rescuers have found the body of two crew members but five others are still missing.

The Airbus A320 jet was on a test flight after undertaking maintenance at Perpignan airport in the south of France. Local officials say the plane was operating normally when it crashed into the sea.

The crew comprised five New Zealanders and two Germans, the Daily Mail reported. French officials say there is no hope of finding survivors in the wreckage.

The aircraft, built in 2005, had been leased by Air New Zealand to German carrier XL Airways for the past two years and was being tested after a refit prior to being returned to its owner.

Local authorities said recovery teams with five boats, two diving teams and a helicopter were on site and a navy vessel had been sent off to look for the aircraft’s flight recorder.

Today is the 29th anniversary of Air New Zealand’s biggest disaster, when Flight TE901 crashed into Mt. Erebus while on a scenic trip over Antarctica.

Photo: AP