COTONOU, Benin, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The search for survivors Friday amid the wreckage of a Boeing 727 began winding down in Benin as the death toll reached 135, the BBC reported.
The Lebanese-owned Union des Transports Africains flight crashed into the sea off the coast of the west African state of Benin, the country's transport minister announced Friday.
Twenty-two people survived, Hamed Akobi said, revising the status of 156 passengers and seven crew.
The minister gave the revised toll to a team from Lebanon, headed by Foreign Minister Michel Obeid, who arrived in Cotonou in the morning.
Technical problems delayed the flight, which originated in the Guinean capital Conakry and stopped in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown before picking up 71 passengers in Cotonou, aviation officials said.
As it began its delayed departure, its landing gear failed to re-engage, sending the plane skidding down the runway and smashing into a building, witnesses said.
It then exploded and tumbled nose down into the sea, witnesses said.