Cuban authorities say there are no survivors after a state airliner carrying 40 Cubans and 28 foreigners crashed in a fireball on the island's central mountains.
AeroCaribbean Flight 883 was en route from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to the capital city of Havana when it lost contact with air traffic controllers and went down Thursday evening in mountains near the village of Guasimal. State media said the pilot issued an emergency call just before contact was severed.
Cuba's civil aviation authority announced today that there were no survivors. A government website published a list of the 61 passengers and seven crew members who died. It lists the names of 28 foreigners, including nine Argentines, seven Mexicans, three Dutch citizens, two Germans, two Austrians, a Spaniard, a Frenchman, an Italian, a Japanese citizen and a Venezuelan. All seven crew members were Cuban.
State media published photos of the plane's wreckage on fire deep in a thick forest, with Cuban officials in olive military fatigues milling around it. The jet's model number, CU-T15, can be seen amid the flames. Another photo shows workers operating a bulldozer cutting through thick brush to reach the disaster site.
Reuters quoted witnesses on the ground as telling state media that the plane made "several brusque movements before falling to the ground." After the plane crashed at 5:42 p.m. local time, medical facilities in the area were put on alert for multiple casualties. But by midnight they were told to stand down once authorities realized there were no survivors.
Flight 883 flies twice a week from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Havana, stopping in Santiago de Cuba. It was due to land in the Cuban capital at 7:50 p.m., Al-Jazeera reported. The plane was a Russian-made ATR-72-212 belonging to Cuba's state airline.
The plane was one of the last to take off from Haiti ahead of Tropical Storm Tomas, which is swirling in the Caribbean and forecast to hit Haiti this weekend. Cuban authorities say that the cause of the crash is under investigation, and that it's too soon to tell if weather played a factor.
This is Cuba's worst plane crash since 1989, when a Soviet-made Ilyushin-62M crashed after takeoff from Havana, killing all 126 people aboard, according to Reuters.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Posted by news update at 4:29 AM