At keast 110 dead as passenger plane crashes in Cuba

At keast 110 dead as passenger plane crashes in Cuba
At keast 110 dead as passenger plane crashes in Cuba

HAVANA: More than 110 people were killed in a fiery crash of a Boeing 737 passenger plane in Cuba on Friday, with just three seriously injured survivors in hospital after being pulled from the wreckage, officials and state media said.
The aircraft, on a domestic flight to Holguin in eastern Cuba, crashed shortly after taking off from Havana at 11 AM (1500 GMT). There were either 113 passengers, including five children, plus nine crew members, various state media said.
Five of the passengers plus the crew were foreign, media reports said. The Mexican government said Mexicans citizens were among the dead, without providing further details.
“We should expect that the news will not be good, as there are a high number of people who appear to have been killed,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in broadcast comments.
The fire from the crash had been put out and authorities were identifying bodies, the president said. The cause of the crash was not immediately known and Diaz-Canel said authorities were investigating.
“We heard an explosion and then saw a big cloud of smoke go up,” said Gilberto Menendez, who runs a restaurant near the crash site in the agricultural area of Boyeros.
The Boeing 737-201 aircraft was built in 1979 and leased by Cuban airline Cubana from a small Mexican firm called Damojh, according to the Mexican government. That would make it significantly older than most planes in service.
Damojh in Mexico said it did not immediately have any more information. Cubana declined to comment.
Cubana has been the subject of complaints about service and delays in recent months.
The blackened wreckage of Flight CU972 was strewn over the crash site area 20 km (12 miles) south of Havana, a Reuters witness said. Its destination Holguin is the capital of a province that is popular with tourists for its pristine beaches.
Carlos Alberto Martinez, the director of Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital, told Reuters that four victims of the accident had been brought there. One had died and three others, all women, were in a serious condition, he said.
“She is alive but very burnt and swollen,” said a distressed relative of one of the survivors at the hospital.
The reason for the plane going down was unclear. “During take-off (the plane) apparently suffered a problem and dived to the ground,” the Mexican transport department said on its website.
Most aircraft accidents take months of investigation to explain and are typically caused by a cocktail of different factors, according to aviation experts.

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