Algerian military plane crashes in a field, killing 257

Flight had just taken off from Boufarik military base, headed for another base in southwest Algeria

An Algerian military plane carrying soldiers and their families crashed soon after takeoff Wednesday into a field in northern Algeria, killing 257 people in what appeared to be the North African nation’s worst-ever plane crash.

Algeria’s Defence Ministry said those killed included 247 passengers and 10 crew. The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation has been opened.

Algerian authorities did not mention whether there were any survivors but one witness reported seeing some people jump out of the aircraft before it crashed at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday.

READ MORE: Mysteries run deep when airplanes disappear

The flight had just taken off from the Boufarik military base, 30 kilometres southwest of the capital Algiers, for a military base in Bechar in southwest Algeria, according to Farouk Achour, the chief spokesman for the civil protection services. It was scheduled to make a layover in Tindouf in southern Algeria, home to many refugees from the neighbouring Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

The Soviet-designed Il-76 military transport plane crashed in a farm field with no people nearby, Achour said.

Algerian TV Dzair said five people were in a critical state but it’s unclear whether they were inside the plane when it crashed.

Footage from the scene showed thick black smoke coming off the field, ambulances and Red Crescent vehicles arriving at the crash site and body bags lined up in the field.

Several witnesses told Algerian TV network Ennahar they saw flames coming out of one of the planes’ engines just before it took off. One farmer said some passengers jumped out of the aircraft before the accident.

“The plane started to rise before falling,” an unidentified man lying on what seemed to be a hospital bed told Ennahar TV. “The plane crashed on its wing first and caught fire.”

The victims’ bodies have been transported to the Algerian army’s central hospital for identification.

The prime minister’s office said lawmakers and officials observed a minute of silence as a tribute to the victims.

The Il-76 model has been in production since 1970s and has an overall good safety record. It is widely used for both commercial freight and military transport. The Algerian military operates several of the planes.

It was the first crash of an Algerian military plane since February 2014, when a U.S.-built C-130 Hercules turboprop slammed into a mountain in Algeria, killing at least 76 people and leaving just one survivor.

The previous deadliest crash on Algerian soil occurred in 2003, when 102 people were killed after a civilian airliner crashed at the end of the runway in Tamanrasset. There was a single survivor in that crash.

Also in 2003, 10 people died when an Algerian Air Force C-130 crashed after an engine caught fire shortly after it took off from the air base near Boufarik, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.

Aomar Ouali, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Exploring the wild and unrestrained side of flamenco

Fin de Fiesta Flamenco troupe returns to Salmon Arm with Salvaje

Salmon Arm athletes hit the track in Cowichan 2018 BC Games

Results from day one with Thompson-Okanagan team are in

Taxi collides with parked dump truck in Salmon Arm

No word yet on the cause or if charges will be laid

Okanagan Wildfires: An evening update on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday evening look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Racers wanted for Shuswap soap box derby

Salmon Arm 10-year-old Brody Paton is making preparations for annual Friendship Day event

BC Games: Day 2 comes to an end

Hundreds of medals have been handed out at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Lettter: Columnist wrong about Mexico, England

America hater, Gwynne Dyer, misrepresents and obfuscates the facts in his last… Continue reading

Letter: Roads in Shuswap’s Blind Bay being neglected

Two weeks ago we went for a drive to Notch Hill Estates.… Continue reading

Letter: Unconvinced of benefits of proportional representation

BC citizens have a very important decision coming up this fall; to… Continue reading

Update: Mount Eneas wildfire holds at 1,374 hectares

Fire chief Dennis Craig said wind was blowing the fire away from homes

Invasive species can be a matter of perspective

Column: Great Outdoors/James Murray

Car thief nabbed by Mounties on wildfire duty

RCMP working wildfires deploy spike belt to nab alleged auto thief from Oliver.

From the Archives: Fish foiled despite fantastic fight

1908 – On June 30, the day the school closed for the… Continue reading

Most Read