A Tunisian ATR-42 airliner with some 35 passengers on board has crashed into the sea off Palermo in Sicily, the Ansa news agency reported, quoting the local fire brigade as saying that some appeared to have survived.
The fire brigade said people had been seen in the water Saturday outside the fuselage of the twin-propellor plane 18 nautical miles off Cape Gallo.
Seven passers were seen on the wings and the plane was still afloat, emergency services said.
Ansa said four rescue boats and naval helicopters had gone to the scene, while on shore dozens of ambulances were on standby to ferry survivors to Palermo hospitals.
The pilot of national airline Tunis Air’s Flight 1153 from Bari in southern Italy to Djerba had been trying to make an emergency landing at Palermo airport, the report said.
The twin-turboprop ATR-42 was the first of a family of regional airliners built by a consortium of France’s Aerospatiale and Italy’s Aeritalia, now Alenia. The first prototype flew in August, 1984 and several hundred have been built.