herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Horror scenes as 257 killed in Algerian military plane crash

The wreckage of the Russian-built Algerian military transport plane
The wreckage of the Russian-built Algerian military transport plane

A military plane carrying soldiers and their families crashed soon after take-off into farmland in northern Algeria, killing 257 people, in what appeared to be the worst plane crash in the North African nation's history.

Those killed included 247 passengers and 10 crew, Algeria's defence ministry said.

The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation has been opened.

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

Local media reported that the plane crashed just after taking off. Emergency services converged on the area near the Boufarik military base after in came down.

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 flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 30km south-west of the capital, Algiers, for a military base in Bechar in south-west Algeria, according to the chief spokesman for the civil protection services.

It was scheduled to make a layover in Tindouf in southern Algeria, home to many refugees from the neighbouring Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

Safety

The Soviet-designed Il-76 military transport plane crashed in an agricultural zone with no residents, Mr Achour said.

The Il-76 model has been in production since the 1970s and has an overall good safety record. It is widely used for both commercial freight and military transport. The Algerian military operates several of the planes.

The wreckage of the Russian-built Algerian military transport plane
The wreckage of the Russian-built Algerian military transport plane

The previous deadliest crash on Algerian soil happ-ened in 2003, when 102 people were killed after a civilian airliner crashed at the end of the runway in Tamanrasset.

There was one survivor in that crash.

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