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Cuban aircraft crash 'kills 68'

All 68 people aboard the Cuban passenger plane that crashed while flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to the capital Havana have been killed, officials said.

Cuba's Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement to confirm that emergency services had found no survivors.

AeroCaribbean Flight 883 went down near the village of Guasimal in Santi Spiritus province, carrying 61 passengers and a crew of seven.

Reports indicate that 28 foreigners were on board, including nine Argentines, seven Mexicans, three Dutch citizens, two Germans, two Austrians, a French citizen, an Italian, a Spaniard, a Venezuelan and a Japanese.

The plane crashed and burst into flames in a mountainous area after declaring an emergency and losing contact with air traffic controllers.

A photo posted on the website of the local newspaper, Escambray, showed a large piece of the plane in flames, with rescue workers standing around it. It said the local Communist Party chief as well as interior ministry and other officials were at the scene helping with the effort.

The twice-a-week flight goes from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Santiago de Cuba to Havana. State media said that the plane was an ATR-72 twin turboprop and that the crash site was not far from the Zaza reservoir, the largest in Cuba. It said authorities had mobilised doctors and emergency workers in the rural area, which is about 220 miles east of Havana.

At Havana's national terminal, relatives of those on board the plane were kept isolated from other passengers and journalists.

State media gave no details on what happened to the airliner, saying only that the cause of the crash was being investigated.

The flight would have been one of the last leaving Santiago de Cuba for Havana ahead of Tropical Storm Tomas, which is on a track to pass between Cuba's eastern end and the western coast of Haiti on Friday. Cuban media said earlier that flights and train services to Santiago were being suspended until the storm passed.


From Belfast Telegraph