Algerian military transport plane crashes, killing 257 people

An Algerian military transport plane crashed Wednesday just after taking off from an air base south of the capital, Algiers, killing 257 people, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense.

Algerian military transport plane crashes, killing 257 people

An Algerian military transport plane crashed Wednesday just after taking off from an air base south of the capital, Algiers, killing 257 people, according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense.

The Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 was headed to the southwestern city of Bechar when it crashed just outside the Boufarik military air base in a farm field. The dead included soldiers and family members.

“The number of martyrs has risen to 247 passengers and 10 members of the crew, most of whom are members of the army as well as their families,” said the ministry statement. “The bodies of the victims are being taken to the Central Hospital of the Army in Ain Naadja to identify them.”

The military added that Gen. Gaid Salah, head of the army, had gone to the site and ordered an investigation into the crash.

Television images showed black smoke billowing from the crash site, some 20 miles south of Algiers on the way to the city of Blida. Rescue personnel moved around the shattered plane.

Later images showed plane split in half with the back part of the fuselage intact and the tail sticking out of the field. Most of the front of the plane appeared destroyed.

The plane was scheduled to stop in the remote town of Tindouf along the Moroccan border, the site of the sprawling refu­gee camps for Western Saharans who have fled their decades-old conflict with Morocco.

Djamel Ould Abbes, secretary general of the ruling FLN party, told Ennahar television that 26 of the dead were members of the Polisario, the armed group fighting Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara region.

Algeria backs the Polisario, which is seeking the independence of the Western Sahara.

The Ilyushin Il-76 was first built in the 1970s and used as a transport plane, often in rugged underdeveloped parts of the world. It has the ability to use unpaved runways.(washingtonpost)

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