Crash kills 257 in Algeria's deadliest aviation disaster
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — A hulking military transport plane crashed just after takeoff in Algeria today, killing 257 people in the worst aviation disaster in the North African nation's history and plunging the country into mourning.
Soldiers, their family members and a group of 30 people returning to refugee camps from hospital stays in Algeria's capital died in the morning crash of the Russian-made II-76 aircraft.
The plane went down in a field just outside a military base in Boufarik, 20 miles south of Algiers, and was devoured by flames, killing 247 passengers and 10 crew members, the Defense Ministry said.
There was no official mention of survivors, but one witness reported seeing people jump out of the aircraft before it crashed.
Arabic-language channel Dzair TV reported five people were in a critical state, but it was unclear if they had been on the plane or were injured on the ground.
Several witnesses told Algerian TV network Ennahar they saw flames coming out of one of the planes' four engines just before it took off.
"The plane started to rise before falling," an unidentified man lying on what appeared to be a hospital bed told Ennahar TV. "The plane crashed on its wing first and caught fire."
Video on the state television channel ENTV showed a blackened hulk broken into pieces, with huge wheels scattered about along with other plane parts. Firefighters doused the flames while body bags were placed in rows in the field.