MD-82 Crashes On Takeoff In Madrid, At Least 153 Dead

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An MD-82 operated by Spanair crashed on takeoff in Madrid on Wednesday afternoon. The aircraft broke apart and a fire ensued, the NTSB said. Early reports saidt 44 were dead and 45 injured, but the death toll climbed through the day. The flight was headed for the Canary Islands, a popular vacation spot off the West Coast of Africa. Spanair is a low-cost carrier owned by SAS, the Scandinavian Airlines System, and has been losing money. SAS had recently tried to sell it off, but couldn't find a buyer, and on Wednesday, before word of the crash, the pilots had threatened to go on strike. There were also reports that the aircraft had aborted a takeoff an hour before the crash and passengers were warned they might have to change aircraft. Weather at the time of the crash was reported as clear. Helicopters and fire trucks were used to suppress the fire.