Vastavam web: More than 100 people were killed when a Boeing 737 crashed soon after taking off from Havana in what appeared to be Cuba’s worst air disaster in nearly 30 years, and there were only three survivors, officials and state media said on Friday.The passenger plane, on a domestic flight to Holguin in eastern Cuba, crashed at 12:08 p.m. (1608 GMT). There were 105 passengers, including five children, plus crew members, state media reported.President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in broadcast comments that a high number of people appeared to have been killed. He said the fire from the crash had been extinguished and authorities were identifying bodies.
Former Cuban president Raul Castro, who now heads the country’s ruling Communist Party, offered his condolences to the families of those who died in the crash as he recovered from a hernia operation, State media reported.This was the first time Cuba reported on a health issue for Castro, 86, who last month handed over the reins of power to his right-hand man Diaz-Canel.“We heard an explosion and then saw a big cloud of smoke go up,” said Gilberto Menendez, who runs a restaurant near the crash site in the agricultural area of Boyeros.
The flight’s destination, Holguin, is the capital of a province popular with tourists for its pristine beaches.“She is alive but very burnt and swollen,” said one of the women’s relatives at the hospital.The Mexican transport department said on its website, “During take-off (the plane) apparently suffered a problem and dived to the ground.”The Boeing 737-201 aircraft was built in 1979 and leased by Cuban airline Cubana from a small Mexican company called Damojh, according to the Mexican government.
Mexico said it would send a team of investigators from its Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics on Saturday. Most aircraft accidents take months to investigate.A U.S. State Department official said the agency was not aware of any request for U.S. assistance at this time, but the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration had offered to assist in the investigation.
Boeing Co said in a statement that its technical team stood “ready to assist as permitted under U.S. law and at the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and Cuban authorities.” The United States has a decades-old trade embargo on the island.On Thursday, Cuba’s First Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa met with Cubana bosses to discuss public complaints about its service, according to state-run media, including numerous cancellations of domestic flights this year and long delays.
Earlier this month, the company was ordered to suspend flights of its six Russian built AN-158 aircraft, of which most had reportedly already been grounded, according to state-run media.