Almost 260 dead in military plane crash in Algeria

Almost 260 dead in military plane crash in Algeria

Almost 260 dead in military plane crash in Algeria

A military transport aircraft crashed near Algeria's Boufarik Air Base Wednesday morning, killing at least 257 people, according to Algeria's defense ministry.

In the hours after the crash was initially reported, the death toll climbed sharply Wednesday, as emergency and military crews worked at the scene.

The defence ministry said in a statement it would investigate the cause of the crash, and it expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

The huge plane, a Russian Il-76, crashed about 8 a.m.

Algeria's Defence Ministry said those killed included 247 passengers and 10 crew. Firefighters doused the flames while body bags were placed in rows in the field.

The Tindouf region is home to refugees from Western Sahara and houses the administrative offices of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic declared in 1976 by the Algiers-backed Polisario Front which seeks independence for the disputed region.

It was flying from Boufarik to Tindouf and then Bashar.

In the same year a Hercules C-130 plane crashed in Algeria's east.

"The plane started to rise before falling", one witness told Ennahar TV.

"After taking off, with the plane at a height of 150 meters I saw the fire on its wing".

Algeria is vast and plane flights are often the best way to traverse Africa's largest nation.

It was the first crash of an Algerian military plane since February 2014, when a US -built C-130 Hercules turboprop slammed into a mountain in Algeria, killing at least 76 people and leaving just one survivor. It is widely used for both commercial freight and military transport.

Algeria has suffered a string of military and civilian aviation disasters.

A local farmer described the moment he saw people leaping from the aircraft moments before the plane crashed at 7.50am local time on Wednesday.

The heavy loss of life of soldiers was certain to deeply shake Algeria.

Previous major air accidents in Algeria include an Air Algerie flight that crashed in northern Mali in July 2014 carrying 116 passengers and crew, almost half of them French, en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria.

The crash was deadliest since 2014 when 298 people were killed after a Malaysian plane was shot down over Ukraine. There was a single survivor in that crash.

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