A Libyan plane arriving from South Africa has disintegrated on landing at Tripoli airport, killing 103 people.

An official in The Hague said 61 Dutch citizens were killed while Libyan Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Zidan listed ‘Libyans, Africans and Europeans’ among the dead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said this evening that one Irish passport holder is understood to have been on board the plane.

It is not yet known whether the passenger lived in Ireland or had relatives living here.

An inquiry is under way to determine what caused the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 to break up as it was landing.

‘There were 104 people on board - 93 passengers and 11 crew members,' Mr Zidan said, adding that the remains of 96 victims had already been recovered.

There was only one survivor, an eight-year-old Dutch boy, he said.

‘His life is not in danger,’ Mr Zidan said, adding that ‘the sole survivor’ was in good shape in a Tripoli hospital.

Witnesses spoke of the plane inexplicably breaking up as it came down to land in clear weather at around 5am Irish time.

Bongani Sithole, an official of Afriqiyah Airways at Johannesburg airport, said the crash happened ‘one metre away from the runway.’

The plane was new and had only been acquired by the airline in September.

It was reportedly due to fly on from Tripoli to London's Gatwick airport.

Authorities in Pretoria said they were trying to determine if any South Africans were among the dead.

‘We have established consular emergency response and request South Africans who had relatives aboard that plane to call us so that we able to assist with repatriation of the remains and helping them get visas to Tripoli as soon as possible,’ foreign ministry spokesman Saul Molobi said.