Algerian Transport Aircraft Crashes; 257 Dead

At Least 100 Killed as Military Plane Crashes in Algeria

A military transport aircraft crashed near Algeria's Boufarik Air Base on Wednesday morning, killing at least 257 people, according to Algeria's defense ministry.

Earlier TV images showed flames and smoke billowing from the site of the crash, the country's worst air disaster.

The Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 plane was carrying troops and equipment and was headed to the western Algerian state of Bechar at the time of the crash.

That came more than a decade after all but one of the 103 people on an Air Algerie Boeing 737-200 died in March 2003 when it crashed on takeoff in the country's south after an engine caught fire. "The plane crashed on its wing first and caught fire". "The pilot avoided crashing on the road when he changed the flight path to the field", Abd El Karim, a witness, told the private Ennahar TV station. One eyewitness told local television: "We saw bodies burned".

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

The victims' bodies were transported to the Algerian army's central hospital outside the capital.




There was no official mention of survivors, but one witness reported seeing some people jump out of the aircraft before it crashed.

"We talked on the phone yesterday evening and he promised to call me again on arrival in Tindouf", he said.

Both the towns are on the Algerian-Morocco border. A senior member of Algeria's ruling FLN party said those killed included 26 Polisario members. Deputy Defence Minister General Ahmed Gaid Salah visited the site and ordered an investigation, the defence ministry said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his condolences to the President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika over the heavy loss of human life in the crash of a military transport plane near Boufarik airdrome.

Doctors who have been on strike for months over their pay and work conditions resumed work to treat the survivors, residents said. Despite Morocco's claims, Polisario established its self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in part of the territory.

"In this painful ordeal, the government members offer their deepest condolences to the families of the victims", a cabinet statement said.

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