Spanish PM: military plane crashes, at least eight killed

Rajoy said up to 10 people were travelling on board the military transport plane which crashed one mile north of San Pablo airport in Seville

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A military transport plane crashed near southwestern Seville airport Saturday, killing its crew, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

Rajoy said up to 10 people were traveling on the brand new Airbus A400M aircraft that was undergoing flight trials at the airport. It crashed one mile north of San Pablo airport in Seville.

“We express our deepest sympathy. They were fellow countrymen,” Rajoy said. He cancelled the day’s political meetings for an upcoming local elections scheduled for May 24.

Meanwhile, the AENA airport authority said “Seville airport is closed to traffic. Its firefighters are on the scene of an accident outside the grounds.”

All flights to Seville were being diverted to Malaga and Jerez airports, AENA added.

AENA also said an industrial estate near where the Airbus came down in the suburb of Carmona had lost electrical power as a result of the crash.

Calls to the regional government of Andalucia went unanswered Saturday.

Photographs published on leading Spanish newspaper El Pais’ website showed fire services extinguishing the fire at the smoking wreckage in a ploughed field.

Spanish state television TVE broadcast footage shot from a car driving past airport buildings showing a plume of black smoke rising into the sky. TVE said the pilots had communicated with the control tower, saying their plane was in difficulty.

The A400M is a large, propeller-driven transport aircraft that is being assembled in Seville. Some 194 examples have been ordered by eight countries - including Spain - seeking a replacement to its aging Hercules fleet.

(With agencies)