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21 December  
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1988: Jumbo jet crashes onto Lockerbie
A Pan Am jumbo jet with 258 passengers on board has crashed on to the town of Lockerbie near the Scottish borders.

Initial reports indicate it crashed into a petrol station in the centre of the town, between Carlisle and Dumfries, and burst into a 300-foot fireball.

Hundreds are feared dead as airline officials said flight 103 was about two-thirds full with 255 adults and three children on board.

Rescue teams have confirmed there are many casualties at the scene including townspeople who were on the ground.

The Boeing 747 left London Heathrow at 1800 GMT bound for New York's JFK airport.

Shortly after 1900 the flight disappeared from radar screens at Prestwick Air Traffic Control Centre.

There was just a terrible explosion, you just couldn't describe it
Eyewitness
At 1908 there were reports by the Civil Air Traffic Control Authorities of an explosion on the ground 15 miles north of the Scottish border.

Details of the accident are still unclear but there are unconfirmed reports the plane has ploughed into cars and houses.

An eyewitness said the aircraft has hit a central part of the town in a residential area.

"There was just a terrible explosion, you just couldn't describe it," he told the BBC.

"It is just impossible to approach the town but at the time it went up there was a terrible explosion and the whole sky lit up.

"It was virtually raining fire - it was just liquid fire."

Parts of the town are being evacuated and a hall has been converted into a refuge centre.

Dumfries and Galloway Hospital, about 20 miles away, is on emergency alert.

Ambulances from southern Scotland and Cumbria have been sent to the scene.

The RAF has sent personnel and helicopters from Scotland and Northern England, along with mountain rescue teams to help police.

The A74 has been cordoned off after police reported several parked cars on fire.

It is thought the plane would have been flying at about 31,000 ft over Lockerbie when it exploded.

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Watch/Listen
The Lockerbie crash site
The plane was headed for New York

The BBC's Kate Adie looks at security measures in Frankfurt


In Context
In total 259 people aboard the flight and 11 on the ground died in the crash which took place 38 minutes after take-off.

The debris from the aircraft was scattered across 845 square miles and the impact reached 1.6 on the Richter scale.

The subsequent police investigation was the biggest ever mounted in Scotland and became a murder inquiry when evidence of a bomb was found.

Two men accused of being Libyan intelligence agents were eventually charged with planting the bomb.

Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was jailed for life in January 2001 following an 84-day trial under Scottish law, at Camp Zeist in Holland.

His alleged accomplice, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was found not guilty.

In 2002 Al Megrahi's appeal against conviction was rejected.

Stories From 21 Dec


 
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