Official orders mourning after plane crash kills 257
Algeria plunged into mourning after a hulking military transport plane crashed just after takeoff Wednesday, killing 257 people in the worst aviation disaster in the North African nation’s history.
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.
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.
The victims’ bodies were transported to the Algerian army’s central hospital outside the capital.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ordered three days of mourning starting immediately and prayers for the dead Friday at mosques across the country.
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.