Algeria will observe three days of mourning starting Wednesday for the 77 people killed when a military transport plane slammed into a mountain in the country’s rugged east a day earlier, one of the country's worst air disasters in a decade.
The US-built C-130 Hercules crashed about noon near the town of Ain Kercha, 50 kilometres southeast of Constantine, the main city in eastern Algeria. The military blamed poor weather for the crash.
The defence ministry said a total of 77 people died in the crash, fewer than the 103 dead originally cited by local media.
The lone survivor - a soldier - suffered head injuries and was treated at a nearby military facility before being flown to the military hospital in the capital Algiers.
Civil defence officials at the scene said the plane broke into three parts at the snowy crash site and women and children, presumably from military families, were among the dead.
Military transports in Algeria routinely carry not only soldiers but military families visiting the army bases.
The plane had taken off from the southern Saharan city of Tamanrasset, which has a massive military presence due to its proximity to the country's unstable southern borders, and was heading to Constantine.
Algerian military planes also take on other civilians if space is available.
The presidency announced a three-day period of mourning, calling the soldiers who had died "martyrs for the country.''
Tuesday's plane crash would be the worst in Algeria since 2003 when an Air Algérie jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Tamanrasset, killing 102 people.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2014-02-11