Sahara air crash kills 78

AT LEAST 78 people were killed yesterday when a Moroccan military transport plane crashed into a mountain in the south of the country during bad weather, the state news agency reported.

Three people, who were injured, survived the crash, which happened when a Hercules C-130 aircraft was trying to land in Guelmim, having flown north from the disputed Western Sahara territory.

The crash is Morocco's worst air disaster since 1973, when 105 people were killed after a Royal Air Maroc plane crashed near capital Rabat.

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A resident in the Guelmim area said there was thick fog at the time of the crash, which occurred at 9am local time some 450 miles south of Rabat.

The military said 60 soldiers, 12 civilians and nine crew members were on board.

Morocco keeps most of its soldiers in Western Sahara, a territory that it annexed in 1975.

The country's most recent plane crash was in 1994 when all 44 passengers and crew members aboard a Royal Air Maroc plane died in a crash near the southwestern city of Agadir.

A government committee later said the Agadir crash was deliberately caused by the pilot.