A320 Crash In Mediterranean

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An Airbus A320 crashed into the sea off southwest France, Thursday, at about 1600 GMT, killing at least two, according to the first reports, and leaving five of the seven aboard so far unaccounted for and presumed dead. The jet "made an attempt to climb but fell back down again immediately," one witness told local paper L'Independant. "I saw an enormous splash of water, then, a few seconds later, I heard the noise. It was terrifying." Those aboard were all technical personnel or airline crew. It is believed four are Air New Zealand personnel and one is a Civil Aviation Authority representative. The aircraft's wreckage was found about 3.5 nautical off the coast east of the French city of Perpignan, on the Mediterranean, where the jet was serviced. It was being flown following maintenance and prior to its return to Air New Zealand, which had leased the airliner to German charter airline XL Airways. The accident is being investigated by the French civil aviation authority as at least one search and rescue aircraft, two helicopters, and five ships are searching the seas around the crash site. A spokesman for the maritime department at Toulon told French newspaper Le Monde that "there are no survivors." Airbus had not provided comment at the time of this report.