Dozens killed in Cuba plane crash

A Cuban airliner on a flight to Havana crashed in central Cuba, killing all 68 people on board including 28 foreigners, officials said on Friday via state media.

The plane, operated by state-run Aerocaribbean, “fell to the ground in the region of Guasimal” after the pilot reported an emergency, according to a statement by Cuba’s Civil Aeronautics Institute read on state television.

“There were no survivors” from the flight which departed on Thursday afternoon from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba bound for the capital, the official website Cubadebate.cu reported.

It was the Communist-ruled island’s worst air disaster in 21 years.

Among the passengers were 10 Europeans, nine Argentinians, seven Mexicans, one Venezuelan and one Japanese, state media reported.

The Europeans included three Dutch, two Germans, two Austrians, and one each from France, Italy and Spain.

There were 40 Cubans on board, including seven crew.

Emergency rescue teams from Sancti Spiritus province where the plane went down, aided by local residents, scrambled to get to the crash site and reached it overnight, finding everyone on board had been killed, officials said.

The Aerocaribbean plane had left Santiago de Cuba, in the island’s far east, ahead of the approach of Tropical Storm Tomas, which was expected to intensify to hurricane status and graze both Cuba and Haiti on Friday.

The twin turbo-propeller ATR-72-212, built by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Regional, lost contact with aviation authorities around 5.42pm local time and crashed about 300km south-east of Havana, officials said.—AFP

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