Algerian military plane crashes into town

Up to 17 people died when an Algerian military Hercules aircraft crashed into houses in a town just south of the capital Algiers on Monday, military and rescue officials said.

    More residents than passengers
    died in the town of Bani Marad

    One eyewitness, Tawfiiq Shamshani, told journalists that “the crash was like an earthquake."

    "I think most of the victims were boys playing football just near the houses. I saw fire from the aircraft before it crashed,” he added. 
       
    Between 15 and 17 people, including four from the aircraft, died immediately, said a civil police official at the scene.
       
    "They [bodies] are all burned," the dirt-covered official told journalists. A military officer had earlier said at least 17 had died. Several people were injured.

    Cause as yet unknown
       
    It was not immediately clear why the Hercules C 130 plane crashed into the small town of Bani Marad, just south of the Bufarik military airbase where it had taken off.

    The town is located some 30 km south of the capital.
       
    Some five residential buildings were completely charred by the fire and were partially destroyed.
       
    Abd ul-Hafidh, who lives a few hundred metres away from the crash site, told Algerian state news agency APS: "We heard an enormous explosion and then a huge fire [erupted] near the house with lots of blackish smoke."
       
    Police, military and rescue workers were evacuating the casualties to the nearest medical centres and were continuing to search the rubble.
       
    The Interior Ministry was not immediately available for comment. The preliminary official death toll was at least nine confirmed dead, including several children, though officials on the scene gave higher figures.
       
    In March, a Boeing 737 aircraft owned by state airline Air Algerie crashed deep in the Algerian Sahara desert, killing 102 people in the country's worst air accident since the North African country gained independence from France in 1962.


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