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A Cuban airliner with at least 110 people on board plummeted into a yuca field just after takeoff from Havana’s international airport on Friday.
Cuban broadcaster CubaTV reported more than 100 were killed in the fiery crash.
Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said there were three seriously injured survivors among the passengers and crew.
Firefighters rushed to extinguish flames engulfing the Boeing 737, which was meant to be on a short jaunt to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin when it went down just after lift off from Jose Marti International Airport.
The plane lay in a field of yuca-root plants and appeared heavily damaged and burnt. Firefighters were trying to extinguish its smouldering remains. Government officials including President Miguel Diaz-Canel rushed to the site, along with a large number of emergency medical workers.
Relatives of passengers were heading to the scene, among them a man who said that his wife and niece had been on board. He declined to provide his full name before he was taken to an airline terminal where relatives were being asked to gather.
Reports said that 104 passengers and nine crew members were on board, but that figure has not been confirmed.
The plane was rented by Cubana, which has taken many of its aging planes out of service in recent months due to mechanical problems. Cuba’s First Vice-President, Salvador Valdes Mesa, met Thursday with Cubana officials to discuss improvements in its heavily criticised service. The airline is notorious among Cubans for its frequent delays and cancellations, which Cubana blames on a lack of parts and airplanes due to the U.S. trade embargo on the island.
The crash Friday was Cuba’s third major accident since 2010.
Last year, a Cuban military plane crashed into a hillside in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board. In November 2010, an AeroCaribbean flight from Santiago to Havana went down in bad weather as it flew over central Cuba, killing all 68 people, including 28 foreigners, in what was Cuba’s worst air disaster in more than two decades.