More than 250 people killed after Algerian military plane crashes

by Edgar Hayes April 13, 2018, 2:33
More than 250 people killed after Algerian military plane crashes

A hulking military transport plane crashed just after takeoff in Algeria on Wednesday, killing 257 people in the worst aviation disaster in the North African nation's history and plunging the country into mourning.

Tindouf is home to tens of thousands of refugees from the Western Sahara standoff, and a source close to Polisario said the flight route is taken regularly by Western Saharan refugees.

Numerous victims were badly burned in Wednesday's crash of a military transport plane after it took off and plunged into a field, a Defense Ministry statement said.

Mohammed Achour, the chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, said the Russian-designed Il-76 military transport plane had been carrying soldiers.

Television images showed black smoke billowing from the crash site, about 20 miles south of Algiers.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash.

More than 100 military personnel were on board the plane when it came down near Boufarik airport, local channel Ennahar TV reported.

Both the towns are on the Algerian-Morocco border.

An Instagram model broadcast her final moments to her thousands of followers, shortly before a private plane she was on crashed.

The government has declared three days of national mourning. Victims' bodies have been transported to the Algerian army's central hospital to be identified. Phoenix TV station KTVK said Pedroza, from Las Vegas, bought a share of the 1970 six-seat plane in February.

Passengers from Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco after Spain withdrew in 1975, were among the fatalities.

"My friend survived the plane (crash) but he is still in hospital", said Djamel, one of dozens of people who gathered near the crash site on Thursday.

The U.S. Embassy in Algiers expressed its "deepest condolences" to "our partners and colleagues in the Algerian military", and their families.

An Air Algerie passenger plane flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed in northern Mali in July 2014, killing all 116 people on board including 54 French nationals. There was a single survivor in that crash.

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