Over 250 killed in Algerian military plane crash

Over 250 killed in Algerian military plane crash

More than 250 people were killed when a military plane crashed in a field near Algeria's capital on Wednesday.

Witnesses said they saw a wing catch fire shortly after the plane took off. Dozens of firefighters, rescue workers and military officials worked around the blackened fuselage of the aircraft, which was ripped open near its wings.

Bits of mangled and smouldering debris were scattered across the field near Boufarik airport southwest of Algiers. Earlier TV images showed flames and smoke billowing from the site of the crash.

"This morning at around 8:00 an Ilyushin model military transport plane ... crashed directly after takeoff in an agricultural field that was clear of residents," Major General Boualem Madi told state TV.

A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to the wreck of what media said was a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane, part of which was still intact.

"After taking off, with the plane at a height of 150 meters I saw the fire on its wing. The pilot avoided crashing on the road when he changed the flight path to the field," Abd El Karim, a witness, told the private Ennahar TV station.

Another witness said: "We saw bodies burned. It is a real disaster".

A total of 257 people were killed, most of them military, the defence ministry said. Ten crew and other people described as family members died, and a number of survivors were being treated at an army hospital, the ministry added.

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

A source close to Polisario said that the dead included four refugee children and that around 30 refugees who had received medical treatment in the capital had been killed in all.

The plane had been heading to Tindouf on the border with Western Sahara, Algeria's defence ministry said. Tindouf is home to tens of thousands of refugees from the Western Sahara standoff.

Doctors who have been on strike for months over their pay and work conditions resumed work to treat the survivors, residents said. Some 70 ambulances arrived at the scene after the crash, local media said.

The UN has long been trying to broker a settlement for Western Sahara, which has been contested since 1975 when Spanish colonial powers left.

 

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry