At least 257 killed in Algeria military plane crash
ALGIERS – At least 257 people, mostly soldiers and members of their families, were killed in an Algerian military plane crash Tuesday, the defence ministry said.
The II-76 crashed shortly after take-off from the Boufarik airbase, about 25 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers.
The dead include the plane's 10 crew and 247 passengers, most of them members of the armed forces, the ministry said in a statement.
Television footage showed crowds gathering around the smoking and flaming wreckage near Boufarik airport.
An official from the Algerian ruling party said that 26 members of the Polisario Front movement were among the dead, confirming Morocco’s claim that Algeria is playing a key role in the Western Sahara conflict despite Algiers’ denial.
FLN Secretary General Djamel made the comment to private broadcaster Ennahar TV but gave no total death toll in the crash, which happened outside Algiers.
The plane was headed to Tindouf in Algeria's south, home to camps for refugees from a long-running territorial dispute in Western Sahara, when it crashed.
A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to what media said was a Russian Ilyushin transport plane.
Rescue workers said 105 people died in the crash, local TV channels including Ennahar and DzaÃ¯r reported.
Algeria's defence ministry said the plane was heading for Tindouf in southwest Algeria, but crashed into a field on the perimeter of the airport.
The ministry issued a statement expressing condolences to families of the victims, but gave no toll.
In February 2014, an Algerian Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules crashed in a mountainous area in eastern Algeria killing 77 passengers and leaving one survivor.