Friday, 13 April 2018

Algeria military plane crash: 257 dead after military transport aircraft crashes near Algiers

Nearly 260 people including members of Western Sahara's Polisario independence movement were killed when an Algerian military plane crashed soon after takeoff, officials said.

TV footage showed crowds gathering around the smoking and flaming wreckage near the Boufarik military base, near the capital Algiers.

A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to what media said was a Russian Ilyushin transport plane

A total of 257 people died in the crash, the Algerian defence ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said 247 passengers and 10 crew members were killed.

A member of Algeria's ruling FLN party told the Ennahar TV station the dead included 26 members of Polisario, an Algerian-backed group fighting for the independence of neighbouring Western Sahara, a territory also claimed by Morocco in a longrunning dispute.

Dzair TV said five people were in a critical state, but it was unclear whether they were inside the plane when it crashed. 

Footage from the scene showed thick black smoke coming off the field, as well as ambulances and Red Crescent vehicles arriving at the site. 

The tailfin of a plane could be seen above olive trees, with smoke and flames rising from the wreckage.

Algerian soldiers oversee the wreckage of the military plane after it crashed in Boufarik,
near the Algerian capital, Algiers (AP)

Several witnesses told Ennahar TV they saw flames coming out of one of the planes' engines just before it took off. One farmer said some passengers jumped out of the aircraft before the accident. 

"The plane started to rise before falling," an unidentified man lying on what seemed to be a hospital bed told Ennahar TV. "The plane crashed on its wing first and caught fire." 

Farouk Achour, chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said the plane was carrying soldiers.

He said some passengers were "extracted with deep burns caused by the fuselage catching fire." 

The cause of the crash remained unclear and an investigation has been opened, Algeria's defence ministry said.

The ministry said most of the victims were soldiers and their relatives and the victims' bodies were transported to the Algerian army's central hospital in the town of Ain Naadja for identification. 

More than 100 people dead after military plane crashes in Algeria
Samuel Osborne
More than 100 people were killed when an Algerian military plane crashed soon after takeoff. Emergency services ...


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