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103 killed in Algeria crash

Algiers, Feb. 11 (Reuters): A military transport plane carrying members of the armed forces and their relatives crashed in eastern Algeria today killing 103 people, the private Ennahar TV station reported, citing “informed sources”.

A local official told Reuters one person survived the crash and 53 bodies had been recovered, but declined to give an overall death toll, saying the search and rescue operation was still underway.

The plane crashed in a mountainous area in the Oum El Bouaghi province, about 500km from the capital Algiers, Ennahar TV reported.

A military official, Col Lahmadi Bouguern, told the APS state news agency 99 passengers and four crew members had been on the plane but the death toll was “yet to be determined”, adding bad weather and strong winds may have been a factor in the crash.

The transport plane took off from Algeria’s southern Tamanrasset province and was bound for the eastern city of Constantine, APS said.

If the death toll is confirmed, the crash will be the worst in Algeria since 2003 when an Air Algerie jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Tamanrasset, killing 102 people.

The plane was identified as a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a widely used American-made military transport aircraft.

A source told radio station Ennahar — which has close links to the government and army — that contact was lost with the military plane between Oum El Bouaghi and Constantine, as it may have been starting to make its descent prior to landing.

It crashed into Djebel Fertas mountain, some 380km east of Algiers, Col Bouguern was quoted as saying on state media.

 
 
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