Algiers, March 6 (Reuters): An Algerian plane crashed today, killing 103 passengers and crew near Tamanrasset deep in the Sahara desert, Algerian television said.
It gave no word of survivors in the deadliest air accident in the north African country since independence from France 41 years ago. Quoting rescue workers on the scene, the official news agency APS said a Boeing 737-200 of the state-owned national airline Air Algerie crashed shortly after take-off from Tamanrasset airport at 1445 GMT.
It had been heading for the capital Algiers on the Mediterranean coast in the north.
The television said two pilots and four flight attendants were among the dead.
APS said there were 97 passengers and an unspecified number of crew on board. In an earlier report it said 97 had died and at least one person was injured.
“This was the worst crash in Algeria or involving an Algerian plane since independence,” said a veteran pilot for the airline.
Tamanrasset is in the middle of the Sahara in the far south, 1,920 km from Algiers. The area, noted for its prehistoric cave paintings, attracts limited tourism, mainly from France and Germany, despite an Islamic insurgency which has racked Algeria for the past decade.
Air Algerie declined to comment further.
APS said the government had set up a crisis committee to investigate the “technical causes of the accident” — a wording suggesting authorities ruled out a deliberate attack.