Eyewitnesses describe moment after crash of Algeria military plane

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An Algerian military plane carrying soldiers and their families on Wednesday crashed soon after take-off into a field in northern Algeria, killing at least 257 people in what appeared to be the North African nation’s the worst-ever plane crash.

The Defense Ministry said those killed included 247 passengers and 10 crew.

Algerian authorities did not mention whether there were any survivors.

One local station reported five people were in a critical state, but it was unclear whether they were inside the plane when it crashed.

The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation was opened.

Another local station, Ennahar TV, spoke to an injured farm worker, who was on the ground when the plane fell onto its wing before bursting into flames.

Another local man told Ennahar he heard the loud explosion as the plane hit the ground.

He said he gathered the local youth and rushed to the scene to extinguish flames and cover bodies.

The flight had just taken off from the Boufarik military base, 30 kilometres (20 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers, for a military base in Bechar in southwest Algeria, according to the chief spokesman for the civil protection services.

It was scheduled to make a layover in Tindouf in southern Algeria, home to many refugees from the neighboring Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

The Soviet-designed Il-76 military transport plane crashed in a farm field with no people nearby, the civil protection services said.

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