An ALGERIAN military transport plane slammed into a mountain in the country’s rugged eastern region yesterday, killing 102 people on board, while one person survived, a civil defence official said.
The US-built C-130 Hercules transport crashed in the Oum El Bouaghi province near the town of Ain Kercha, 30 miles south east of Constantine, the main city in the region.
Commander Farid Nechad, who is based in Algiers and was co-ordinating recovery efforts, said that 103 people including four crew members had been on the plane, which was carrying members of the armed forces and their relatives.
Mr Nechad said last night that only 55 bodies had been found due to the difficult conditions at the crash site.
He did not give any further details about the survivor, except to say the person had been sent to Constantine hospital.
Civil defence officials at the scene said that women and children were among the dead at the snowy crash site. Local reporters said the C-130 plane could be seen broken into three parts.
The plane had taken off from the southern Saharan city of Tamanrasset and was heading to Constantine.
The Algerian authorities have so far not given an official death toll for the crash.
“Unfavourable weather conditions and storms accompanied by snow in the region were behind the crash,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
Military official Colonel Lahmadi Bouguern said 99 passengers and four crew had been on the plane but the death toll was “yet to be determined”, adding that bad weather and strong winds may have been a factor.
Winds were 17-28 knots at the time, according to the aviation-safety.net website.
The worst plane crash in Algerian history occurred in 2003, when 102 people were killed after a civilian airliner crashed at the end of the runway in Tamanrasset. There was also a single survivor in that crash.
In November 2012, an Algerian military cargo plane crashed in southern France, killing all six people aboard.