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Passenger plane crashes in Cuba, killing more than 100 people

Passenger plane crashes in Cuba, killing more than 100 peopleBy Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta HAVANA (Reuters) – More than 100 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 a.m. (1500 GMT).



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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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China's Didi suspends car-pool service after passenger murder

China's Didi suspends car-pool service after passenger murderChinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said Friday it would suspend its car-pool service for a week as it deals with an outcry over the murder of a flight attendant found dead after ordering a ride home. The 21-year-old woman, identified by police only by her surname Li, was killed the night of May 6, according to police in the central city of Zhengzhou, with state media reporting that she was found half-naked and stabbed at least 20 times. Li, who worked for Chinese budget carrier Lucky Air, had ordered a ride using Didi’s Hitch service, which pairs up commuters heading in the same direction.



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Cracked window forces US passenger jet diversion

Cracked window forces US passenger jet diversionA cracked window forced a Southwest Airlines passenger jet bound from Chicago to Newark to divert Wednesday, two weeks after a midair engine explosion shattered a window on another of the company’s Boeing 737s. “The aircraft has been taken out of service for maintenance review, and our local Cleveland employees are working diligently to accommodate the 76 customers on a new aircraft to Newark,” it said in a statement. The Boeing 737-700 took off from Chicago Midway International Airport at 8:53 am (1353 GMT) and landed in Cleveland at 10:46 am, according to the FlightAware website.



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Ford shifts focus, discontinues most passenger cars

Ford shifts focus, discontinues most passenger carsFord announced this week that it’s phasing out production for most of its traditional cars, excluding the Mustang and a new Focus crossover, in favor of larger vehicles.



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Police repeatedly Taser airline passenger accused of groping and racist remarks

Police repeatedly Taser airline passenger accused of groping and racist remarksA man has been shocked repeatedly with a Taser gun and arrested on board a plane after he allegedly groped another passenger, Miami police said. According to American Airlines, there was a “disagreement” between Jacob Garcia, 28, and others on Flight 2446 as the aircraft was waiting to depart Miami International Airport for Chicago. The dispute started after Mr Garcia allegedly touched a woman without her permission, according to an arrest report.



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Chaos Aboard Flight as Police Use Stun Gun to Arrest, Remove Passenger

Chaos Aboard Flight as Police Use Stun Gun to Arrest, Remove PassengerA female passenger on the plane said that he'd allegedly touched her.



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'I Wrapped My Arm Around Her.' Southwest Passenger Describes Helping Victim After Engine Explosion

'I Wrapped My Arm Around Her.' Southwest Passenger Describes Helping Victim After Engine ExplosionHollie Mackey was seated in the aisle seat on the same row as Jennifer Riordan



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Plane passenger dilemma: Protect child or try to save victim

Plane passenger dilemma: Protect child or try to save victimPHILADELPHIA (AP) — As Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 plunged, passenger Hollie Mackey was torn between trying to save a woman whose upper body was being sucked out of a broken window and protecting the child beside her from a similar fate.



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Investigators of New York helicopter crash examine whether passenger restraints stopped escape

Investigators of New York helicopter crash examine whether passenger restraints stopped escapeInvestigators recovered a flight data recorder and a GoPro camera Tuesday as they tried to determine the cause of a deadly helicopter crash in New York City's East River and figure out whether passengers' harnesses hindered their escape from the sinking aircraft. The helicopter's five passengers drowned when it capsized after touching down in the river, city medical examiners said. The pilot escaped. National Transportation Safety Board investigators picked over the damaged helicopter at a police hangar in Brooklyn as one victim's family sued chopper owner Liberty Helicopters and others. The lawsuit spotlights the harnesses used in the open-door flight, and notes that the aircraft's inflatable floats didn't keep it from flipping over and sinking. The way passengers were harnessed, with a release mechanism in the back, there "was just no prospect of safely escaping," said Gary C. Robb, a lawyer for the parents of 26-year-old Trevor Cadigan. "Hanging upside-down in frigid water – stunned by the helicopter crash, tightly harnessed, release inaccessible, with no advanced training – is a death trap," said Robb, based in Kansas City, Missouri. New York helicopter crash journey The suit seeks unspecified damages, but Robb said Cadigan's parents mainly want to end open-door flights for taking aerial photos. Liberty Helicopters hasn't responded to requests for comment and referred all inquiries to federal authorities. The NTSB said the aircraft had been flying about 2,000 feet (609 meters) over the city on a scheduled 30-minute flight when the pilot sent out a "Mayday" call saying his engine had failed. After the helicopter made a hard landing in the water, it tipped over and was carried upside-down in the fast river current while police and Fire Department divers tried to free the passengers from their safety harnesses. Two victims died in the water. Three more were pronounced dead after several hours of treatment at a hospital. NTSB investigators said electronic devices recovered from the helicopter or from the victims, including the Go-Pro camera and data recorder, were being sent to laboratories in Washington. Officials also were examining the restraint systems. Passengers' safety harnesses on open-door photo tours are different from pilots' seat belts, said helicopter pilot Bill Richards of the aerial photography company New York Film Flyers. "The pilot survived because the pilot has a single-point release on his seatbelt. It's sitting right in front of him right in the middle," Richards said. "All he has to do is pull up one lever and the seatbelt comes apart, and he's practiced getting in and out of the aircraft hundreds and hundreds of times and knows exactly how to do that." Harnesses made to keep overzealous passengers from falling out of an aircraft's open door, he said, are much harder to unstrap. Passengers get a knife they can use to cut themselves free, but that doesn't mean the passengers know how to use them. New York-based aviation attorney Brian Alexander said the harnesses themselves "may not be a problem," but it might be crucial to know how thoroughly passengers are briefed about getting out in an emergency. The helicopter is hoisted by crane from the East River onto a barge, Monday, March 12 Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP "If you're a tourist off the street, and it's the first time, that's where it seems to me it triggers a much higher duty for these operators to make sure the passengers are prepared to handle that," he said. In addition to Cadigan, the others who died in Sunday's crash include a Texas firefighter, an Argentine tourist, a former basketball team assistant and a 34-year-old man. Liberty has been involved in at least five accidents or other incidents in the last 10 years, according to Federal Aviation Administration data. Three incidents ended in safe landings after, for example, one chopper clipped another while taking off from a helipad. But an August 2009 collision over the Hudson River between a Liberty chopper and a small private plane killed nine people. Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the FAA Monday to suspend Liberty Helicopters flights until the facts of the crash are known. Democratic U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez renewed calls for banning sightseeing copter flights over Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some Democratic New York city council members are pressing the city to take its own steps to crack down on helicopter tours, though it's not clear how much the city can do.



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