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

Earth Day planting supports wetland habitats

Earthwise invites locals to join project restoring delicate area

Letter: One Dump Truck Too Many!

There is something going on in our town (oh! I mean, just… Continue reading

Fraser Health patients to see 23% more knee, hip replacement surgeries

First-available surgeon approach will reduce waitlists, B.C. health minister says

Proper engagement needed for quarry development: expert

Impact on residents, species should be communicated, evaluated

Wildlife centre operator concerned about leg-hold traps

Elizabeth Melnick of Abbotsford says contraptions are injuring innocent animals

VIDEO: Harrison gets uncorked at wine festival

Locally prepared food was paired with a wide variety of wines at the Saturday fundraiser

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

UPDATE: 83-year-old convicted murderer back in custody

RCMP have captured Ralph Whitfield Morris who escaped from Mission Institution

VIDEO: Vets, volunteers set up vaccination station for sick bunnies

Volunteers, vets try to stop spread of lethal virus

If you see a dog in a hot car, don’t break in: SPCA

People are being discouraged from smashing windows to free animals. The SPCA has tips on what else you can do.

Municipal election loophole will be fixed, premier says

Union, corporate donations still allowed for slate party ‘operational’ needs

Most Read