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Belgium Plane Crash Kills Five

A small passenger plane has crashed at Belgium's Charleroi airport, killing five people and closing the international hub used by low-cost carriers.

The aircraft, a Cessna, had problems on takeoff and tried to return to Charleroi to make an emergency landing but crashed on the side of the runway, airport officials said.

"There was a problem on takeoff and they tried to come back, but unfortunately the plane crashed," said Melissa Milioto, an airport spokeswoman.

Two adults and three children, reportedly all from the same family, were killed.

According to the news website sudinfo.be, the victims were a 68-year-old grandfather, a 39-year-old mother, and three children aged seven, six and three. They are thought to be from Brussels.

There were no immediate indications of what caused the crash, which happened at 10am local time (9am GMT).

Firefighters sprayed water on the plane that was reduced to a wreck of twisted metal, with only the tail still visible.

Police said the airport, which is a hub for Ryanair and other low-cost carriers, would be closed until mid-afternoon. Several flights were cancelled and others delayed or diverted.

"Our priority is dealing with this drama. Flights are being diverted to Liege and Brussels," Ms Milioto said.

The crash came at the start of the Belgium school half-term holidays.

Charleroi airport, also known as Brussels South Charleroi, serves as the country's second international airport after Brussels' main Zaventem airport and expects to handle 140,000 passengers over the half-term holiday period.