Cuba mourns after 107 killed in airliner crash


HAVANA – A two-day national mourning began in Cuba on Saturday after 107 people were killed in a plane crash shortly after take off.

Authorities said the crash on Friday killed all but three of the state plane’s 110 passengers and crew. Three women pulled alive from the wreckage are the only known survivors.

The plane was carrying 104 passengers and six crew members. Most of the passengers were Cuban, with five foreigners, including two Argentines, among them.

The nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737 crashed shortly after taking off from Jose Marti airport, coming down in a field near the airport.

The plane took off from Havana at 12:08 pm (1608 GMT) on Friday heading for Holguin, 670 kilometres to the east when it crashed.

Witness Jose Luis, 49, said he could see the plane taking off before it plunged to the ground.

“I saw it taking off. All of a sudden, it made a turn, and went down,” he said.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel said an investigation was under way to find out the cause of the crash.

Mexico said it was sending two civil aviation specialists to help in the investigation. The six crew members were Mexican nationals.

The mourning period is to last until midnight on Sunday, said Communist Party leader and former president Raul Castro. Flags are to be flown at half-mast throughout the country.

Castro sent condolences to families of the victims of the “catastrophic accident,” a statement read.


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