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Military plane with 100 on board crashes in Algeria

Military plane with 100 on board crashes in Algeria

An Algerian military plane crashed outside the capital Algiers on Wednesday, killing at least 257 people, the Defense Ministry said, in what is believed to be the country's worst aviation disaster.

The Soviet-designed Il-76 army transport plane has been in production since the 1970s and is said to have a good safety record.

Thick black smoke billowed from the crash site as scores of firefighters and other rescue personnel crowded around the wreckage.

Meanwhile, news site BBC reports that the head of the army has directed an investigation into the crash and will visit the scene.

Back in 2012 December, two military jets also collided mid-air while they were on a routine training operations close to Tlemcen, in Algeria's northwest and the pilots of both the planes were found dead. An Algerian-backed group seeking independence for Western Sahara said 30 of its people, including women and children, were among the dead.

An Instagram model broadcast her final moments to her thousands of followers, shortly before a private plane she was on crashed.

Relatives hugged coffins draped in the Algerian flag after receiving the bodies of their kin at a military hospital in Algiers where victims had been brought.

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Tindouf is home to many refugees from the neighboring Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco. Pro-Russian rebels are widely accused of shooting the plane down using a surface-to-air missile but they deny responsibility.

Only one person survived after the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft came down in the mountainous Oum El Bouaghi region.

Despite no details emerging on the cause of the disaster, several newspapers underlined the poor state of the Algerian military's ageing aircraft.

The U.S. Embassy in Algiers said it offered its "sincere condolences" to those affected by the tragedy.

The previous deadliest crash in Algeria was in 2003, when 102 people were killed after plane crashed on a runway in Tamanrasset. There was a single survivor in that crash.

Three witnesses said they saw flames coming from one of the plane's engines as it took off around 8 a.m.

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