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Over 250 dead in Alegria plane crash

12 April 2018

Two Algerian soldiers work at the site where an Algerian military plane crashed in the perimeter of air base of Boufarik in Blida province, 30 km southwest of Algiers, Algeria, April 11, 2018.

An Algerian military plane has crashed near the capital killing 257 people on board, officials say, making it the second-deadliest crash in the past 15 years.

The huge plane, a Russian Il-76, crashed about 8 a.m.

Most of the people died were from military, said Algeria's Defence Ministry.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika declared three days of national mourning over the crash starting Wednesday.

It was flying from Boufarik to Tindouf and then Bashar.

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The death toll of 26 members supported by Algeria of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for Western Sahara, which Morocco considers its integral part.

The Algeria crash is also the second-deadliest plane crash since 2003.

Several witnesses told Algerian TV network Ennahar they saw flames coming out of one of the planes' engines just before it took off.

"The plane started to rise before falling", an unidentified man lying on what seemed to be a hospital bed told Ennahar TV.

"After taking off, with the plane at a height of 150 meters I saw the fire on its wing".

The remains of the victims are being taken to an army hospital for identification, the ministry added.

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Algeria is vast and plane flights are often the best way to traverse Africa's largest nation.

A month later, a military helicopter crashed in the province of Naama, 700 km southwest of Algiers, leaving one army troop dead.

The Il-76 model has been in production since 1970s and has an overall good safety record. The plane has been in production since the 1970s, and is widely used for both commercial freight and military transport.

Algeria has suffered a string of military and civilian aviation disasters.

The defence ministry expressed condolences to families of the victims, and government officials observed a minute silence.

The heavy loss of life of soldiers was certain to deeply shake Algeria. There was a single survivor in that crash.

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In February 2014, 77 troops were killed when a C-130 Hercules aircraft belonging to the Algerian Air Force crashed in Oum El Bouaghi Province, 400 km east of Algiers.

Over 250 dead in Alegria plane crash