ALGIERS: A military aircraft carrying 78 people crashed in Algeria’s mountainous northeast on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), leaving just one survivor in one of the country’s deadliest air disasters, the defense ministry said.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced three days of national mourning to begin on Wednesday, praising the soldiers who perished in the crash as “martyrs.”
The C-130 Hercules aircraft, which came down in the Oum El Bouaghi region, was carrying 74 passengers—soldiers and their families—as well as four crew members, the ministry said.
The figure was lower than the 103 people originally reported to be travelling on the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft by security sources and state media. The ministry gave no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
By early evening the emergency services had recovered 76 bodies from the crash site, including the remains of four women.
The sole survivor was taken to a military hospital in the flight’s intended destination, the city of Constantine, east of the capital, suffering from head trauma, public radio reported.
The plane was flying from the desert garrison town of Tamanrasset in Algeria’s deep south to Constantine, 320 kilometers east of Algiers, and lost contact with the control tower just as it was beginning its descent.
The aircraft slammed into Mount Fertas in the Oum El Bouaghi region at around midday (11 a.m. in Manila), state media quoted army spokesman Colonel Bouguern as saying.