Algiers: 257 people died after an Alegerian military plane crashed near an airbase outside the capital Algiers on Wednesday, according to state TV. The military transport plane crashed into a field shortly after take off at Boufarik airport, southwest of Algiers.
The aircraft was an Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane, a military source, who did not want to be named told news agency AFP.
Television footage showed black smoke billowing near a motorway and a crowd of security officials and others standing in a field next to the crash site.
The tail fin of a plane could be seen above olive trees, with smoke and flames rising from the wreckage.
Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of fire trucks with their sirens wailing rushed to the scene.
Victims of the plane crash included 26 members of the Western Saharan Polisario independence movement, an official in Algeria’s ruling FLN party said.
FLN Secretary General Djamel made the comment to private broadcaster Ennahar TV. The plane was headed to Tindouf in Algeria’s south, home to camps for refugees from a long-running territorial dispute in Western Sahara, when it crashed.
Algeria has suffered a string of military and civilian aviation disasters.
Two military planes collided mid-flight in December 2012 during a training exercise in Tlemcen, in the far west of the country, killing the pilots of both planes.
In February 2014, 77 people died when a military plane carrying army personnel and family members crashed between Tamanrasset in southern Algeria and the eastern city of Constantine.
Only one person survived after the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft came down in the mountainous Oum El Bouaghi region.
The defence ministry blamed that crash on bad weather.
An Air Algerie passenger plane flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed in northern Mali in July 2014, killing all 116 people on board including 54 French nationals.
In October the same year, a military plane crashed in the south of the country during a training exercise, killing the two men on board.
That came more than a decade after all but one of the 103 people on an Air Algerie Boeing 737-200 died in March 2003 when it crashed on takeoff in the country's south after an engine caught fire.
(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)