More than 100 people killed as passenger plane crashes in Cuba

More than 100 people killed as passenger plane crashes in CubaAn ageing airliner carrying 110 people crashed shortly after take off from Havana airport in Cuba on Friday, leaving just three survivors in the country's worst aviation disaster in three decades. The 39-year-old Boeing 737 had taken off on an internal flight when it went down into a cassava field not far from the end of the runway just after midday,  bursting into flames and leaving huge plumes of black smoke. A local resident told Granma, the Cuban state newspaper, that the plane crashed after it attempted to return to the airport – making a turn and clipping electricity cables, then plummeting to the ground. Miguel Diaz-Canel, the Cuban president, visited the scene immediately and said: "There is a high number of people who appear to have died. "Things have been organised, the fire has been put out, and the remains are being identified." Granma reported there was a baby aged under two on board, plus four children. The Cubana Airlines Boeing 737 had just left the Jose Marti airport when the accident happened Credit: ADALBERTO ROQUE/ AFP The paper also said that the crew was “foreign” and that there were foreigners on board, but did not give details. The three survivors were taken to the Calixto Garcia hospital, in the Vedado district of Havana. Families of those on board were asked to bring photos of their loved ones to the scene, to assist with identification. The Boeing 737 had just left the Jose Marti airport en route to the town of Holguin – a flight of around an hour and a half. The plane crashed near a school and lay in a farm field, heavily damaged and burnt, with firefighters spraying water on its smouldering remains. Miguel Diaz-Canel, visiting the crash site Credit: AFP What appeared to be one of the wings of the plane was wedged among scorched tree trunks, but the main fuselage appeared to have been entirely destroyed. Firefighters and rescue workers combed through the wreckage, but there seemed little chance of finding survivors. The plane was believed to be a Cubana airlines flight. Mercedes Vazquez, director of air traffic, told Prensa Latina that the plane was owned by Damojh – a Mexican company which operates under the name Global. At a glance | Cuba  A Global employee told AP that the plane was theirs. Cuban state television had earlier claimed that the plane was owned by Blue Panorama, an Italian firm, but they denied involvement. The Cuban state carrier had suspended its own domestic flights in March owing to a shortage of aircraft, according to security site Garda World. Cubana has also taken many of its aging planes out of service in recent months due to mechanical problems. The airline is notorious among Cubans for its frequent delays and cancellations, which Cubana blames on a lack of parts and airplanes due to the US trade embargo on the island. Friday's crash was Cuba's third major fatal accident since 2010. A survivor is loaded into an ambulance Credit: AFP Last year, a Cuban military plane crashed into a hillside in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board. In November 2010, an AeroCaribbean flight from Santiago to Havana went down in bad weather as it flew over central Cuba, killing all 68 people, including 28 foreigners, in what was Cuba's worst air disaster in more than two decades. The last Cubana accident appears to have been on Sept. 4, 1989, when a chartered Cubana plane flying from Havana to Milan, Italy, went down shortly after takeoff, killing all 126 people on board, as well as at least two dozen on the ground. Cubana's director general, Capt. Hermes Hernandez Dumas, told state media last month that Cubana's domestic flights had carried 11,700 more passengers than planned between January and April 2018. It said that 64 per cent of flights had taken off on time, up from 59 per cent the previous year. "Among the difficulties created by the US trade embargo is our inability to acquire latest-generation aircraft with technology capable of guaranteeing the stability of aerial operations," he said. "Another factor is obtaining part for Cubana's aircraft."



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