Algerian Government Declares 3 Days Of Mourning As 257 Die In Military Plane Crash
An Algerian military plane has crashed near the capital killing 257 people on board, officials say.
The aircraft came down just after taking off from Boufarik military airport, west of Algiers.
An inquiry is under way into the cause of the crash – Algeria’s worst-ever air disaster. The government has declared three days of national mourning.
Most of the dead are army personnel and their families, the defence ministry says. Ten crew members also died.
Passengers from Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco after Spain withdrew in 1975, were among the fatalities.
The Polisario Front, which is seeking independence for the territory and is backed by Algeria, says 30 Western Saharans, including women and children, died. A senior member of Algeria’s ruling FLN party said those killed included 26 Polisario members.
Algeria media claim the ill-fated plane, an Ilyushin Il-76, mostly carried soldiers when it went down shortly after takeoff on Wednesday morning. It was reportedly heading to the western Algerian city of Bechar.
Ennahar TV quoted an Algerian ruling party official as saying that 26 people onboard were members of the Polisario Front, a separatist movement in West Sahara – a territory also claimed by Morocco.
Images posted on an Algerian website showed thick smoke billowing from the site of the crash, as several people rushed to the scene.
This is the worst plane crash in Algeria since 2003 when an Air Algerie jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Tamanrasset, killing 102 people.
Also in 2014, more than 70 off-duty military personnel and their family members were killed when a C-130 plane crashed into the Djebel Fertas mountain shortly before it was to land in the northern city of Constantine.
In November 2012, a twin-turboprop CASA C-295 military transport aircraft, which was carrying a cargo of paper for the printing of banknotes in Algeria, crashed in southern France, killing all six passengers aboard.
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