Update: Death Toll In Algeria’s Military Plane Crash Hits 257


At least 257 people have died after a military plane crashed in northern Algeria, the defence ministry says.

The incident happened shortly after the aircraft took off from Boufarik military airport near the capital Algiers in the morning.

Most of the dead are army personnel and their families, according to the defence ministry. Ten crew members were also killed, BBC reports.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash.

The army’s chief of staff has ordered an investigation into the crash and will visit the scene.

It is the deadliest plane crash since July 2014, when all 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 died when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

It is also the second-deadliest plane crash since 2003.

The authorities are working to identify remains of those killed. Footage from the scene shows smoke coming off wreckage in a field.

The plane, an Ilyushin Il-76, was travelling to Bechar in the south-west of the country.

Among the dead are said to be 26 members of the Polisario Front, seeking independence from Morocco for Western Sahara and supported by Algeria.

This is not the first major plane disaster in Algeria

Four years ago a plane carrying military personnel and family members crashed in Algeria, killing 77 people.

AP quoted Algeria’s Defense Ministry as saying that 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.

The flight had just taken off from the Boufarik military base, 30 kilometers (20 miles) 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 neighboring 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.
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