Al­ge­ria plane crash: More than 250 killed in mil­i­tary jet dis­as­ter

Cyprus Today - - WORLD -

MORE than 250 people in­clud­ing Western Sa­hara refugees were killed when a mil­i­tary plane crashed near Al­ge­ria’s cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day, state me­dia said, with wit­nesses say­ing 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 had been ripped open near its wings.

Bits of man­gled and smoul­der­ing de­bris were scat­tered across the field near Bo­u­farik air­port south­west of Al­giers where people were search­ing for bod­ies among the rub­ble.

Ear­lier TV images showed flames and smoke bil­low­ing from the site of the crash, the coun­try’s worst air dis­as­ter.

“This morn­ing at around 8am an Ilyushin model mil­i­tary trans­port plane crashed di­rectly af­ter take-off 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. Smoke was still bil­low­ing hours af­ter the crash.

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.

The plane had been head­ing to Tin­douf on the bor­der with Western Sa­hara, Al­ge­ria’s de­fence min­istry said.

A mem­ber of Al­ge­ria’s rul­ing FLN party told En­na­har TV the dead in­cluded 26 mem­bers of the Polis­ario Front, an Al­ge­ri­an­backed 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.

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