Cuban plane crashes with 68 on board


Cuban Aero Caribbean airline

Aero Caribbean flight 883 went down near the village of Guasimal in Santi Spiritus province

An undated file picture shows an ATR-72-212 twin turboprop of Cuban Aero Caribbean airline. A plane reportedly carrying 68 people crashed in central Cuba. Photograph: Ho/Reuters

A Cuban airliner flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to Havana has crashed with 68 people aboard, including 28 foreigners, state media reported. There was no immediate news on whether there any survivors. Aero Caribbean flight 883 went down near the village of Guasimal in Santi Spiritus province, carrying 61 passengers and a crew of seven, state television said. It reported that 28 passengers were foreign nationals, but did not give a breakdown. State media said the names of those on board would be released later. The twice-a-week flight goes from Port-au-Prince, in Haiti to Santiago de Cuba to Havana. It had been due to land in the Cuban capital at 7:50pm, but reported an emergency at 5:42pm and subsequently lost contact with air traffic controllers. State media said 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 doctors and emergency workers in the area had been mobilised. At Havana’s airport relatives of those on board the plane were kept isolated from other passengers and journalists. “This is very sad,” said Caridad de las Mercedes Gonzalez, who was manning an airport information desk. “We are very worried. This has taken us by surprise.” Media reports 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 the tropical storm Tomas, which was on a track to pass between Cuba’s eastern tip and the western coast of Haiti on Friday. Cuban media said earlier that flights and train service to Santiago were being suspended until the storm passed. Aero Caribbean is owned by Cuban state airline Cubana de Aviacion. The last passenger plane crash on the island occurred in March 2002, when a Soviet-made biplane carrying 16 people including 12 foreigners plunged into a small reservoir in central Cuba. The plane was operated by a small local charter company called Aerotaxi.

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