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India jet disintegrates, 213 dead

By United Press International

BOMBAY, India -- An Air India 747 jumbo jet carrying 213 persons on a flight to Dubai "disintegrated" in the air shortly after takeoff from Bombay Sunday and crashed into the Arabian Sea, apparently killing all aboard, the national news agency Samachar reported.

There Is "no likelihood of any survivors", Samachar said.

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A later dispatch from the agency's New Delhi office said the "plane disintegrated In midair a few minutes after takeoff. All are feared to have been killed."

The giant jet crashed about four miles from shore shortly before 8:30 p.m. 10 a.m. EST in what could be history's third worst air disaster.

Samachar said contact between the plane and Bombay's Santa Cruz Airport was lost Just before the crash.

The agency said people sitting in a card room at a nearby seaside hotel said they heard a loud bang and felt the card tables shake but were unable to see anything, apparently because of poor visibility.

The plane, flight 855, had taken off across the Arabian Sea toward Dubai, on the southeastern tip of the Arabian peninusula.

The government ordered six naval vessels and three helicopters and divers into the area but night had fallen and any rescue operations would be difficult. Others were ordered to join the search Monday if needed. The waters in the area are 30 to 40 feet deep.

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A spokesman said there were 23 crewmen and 190 passengers aboard the plane.

The control tower said the Air India plane lost contact Immediately after takeoff and plunged into the sea off the western suburbs of Bombay, apparently following an explosion.

India' s minister for tourism and civil aviation ordered an inquiry Into the crash and expressed his condolence to families of victims.

On Oct. 12, 1976 an Indian Airlines Bombay to Madras flight crashed after takeoff from the Bombay airport .

The worst air disaster In aviation history came on March 27, 1977, when a KLM Boeing 747 taking off at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands crashed into a taxiing chartered Pan-Am 747, killing 582 persons.

The second was on March 3, 1974 when a Turkish DC-10 jet crashed at Er-menonville near Paris, killing 345 persons.

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