Almost 260 dead in military plane crash in Algeria

Algerian emergency services say 181 people have been killed in a military plane crash and some survivors have

Algeria suffered its deadliest ever air catastrophe yesterday when a military plane crashed after takeoff, killing 257 people on board, mostly army personnel and their family members.

The Polisario Front, which is seeking independence for the territory and is backed by Algeria, says 30 Western Saharans, including women and children, died.

Numerous victims were badly burned in Wednesday's crash of a military transport plane after it took off and plunged into a field, a Defense Ministry statement said.

The Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 transporter was bound for Bechar, in the southwest of the country. Mobile phone video showed black smoke billowing across the fields...

The cause of the crash is unclear and an investigation is underway.

Local news reports said the plane had been carrying as many as 200 soldiers when it crashed just after 8 a.m. Algeria's defense ministry was quoted by state TV as saying that 247 passengers and 10 flight crew were among those killed.

Some people were also killed on the ground.

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Victims come from across the vast North African country, including the capital Algiers, where tens of people gathered outside the home of Seddiki Mehre, the plane's co-pilot.

The plane was headed for Las Vegas and pilot James Pedroza didn't indicate he was having any trouble in his final call before the crash, KPHO-TV said.

The victims' bodies have been transported to the Algerian army's central hospital for identification.

Most merchants near the airbase remained closed for business in a mark of respect for the dead and their families. It is widely used for both commercial freight and transporting troops.

Dozens of firefighters, rescue workers and military officials worked around the blackened fuselage of the aircraft, which had been ripped open near its wings. Bad weather was blamed for 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.

In 2014, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down over war-ravaged eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.