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

Tickets still available for Clearwater Of the Year Awards

Event celebrates local citizens, employees, businesses and services for contributions to community

Road conditions for March 25

Fog is causing poor visibility on Highway 5

Rockin’ Robin

Another sign spring has sprung

Blue River Health Centre closed March 25-26

Clinic will return to regular operations on March 27

Spring Break Skijor Day

More horsing around at Smokin True Ranch

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read