AT LEAST 12 DIE IN MOOREA AIR CRASH

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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Aug. 10) - At least 12 passengers onboard a domestic flight bound for Moorea island, close to French Polynesia's main island of Tahiti, have died on Friday (Thursday Tahiti time, GMT-10) after the small plane crashed soon after take-off, official sources said.

The domestic Air Moorea Twin Otter, a twin-engine turboprop with 20 people onboard, was operating on the Pape'ete-Moorea 15-kilometre domestic route.

The plane was reported to have crashed into the lagoon bordering the Tahiti-Faa'a airport soon after take-off, at around 10:00 a.m. local time (22:00 GMT).

The cause of the crash was not immediately established.

French Civil aviation authorities have launched an inquiry into the matter.

Emergency services deployed on the crash sites have so far retrieved twelve bodies, but the search goes on for the remaining passengers, who have not all been accounted for.

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