UPDATE: The Algerian civil defense commander reported that there is one survivor from the crash of a military plane in the northeastern part of the country, with the remaining 102 passengers having died.
A military transport plane has crashed in northeastern Algeria, killing more than 100 people, BBC reported. The aircraft, reportedly a U.S.-made Hercules C-130 model, went down in a mountainous region of Oum al-Bouaghi province, about 240 miles east of the capital city of Algiers.
An unnamed source told the Ennahar television station of Algeria that the airplane was flying between Ouargla and Constantine, near the Mediterranean coast, and encountered bad weather. However, the official Algeria Press Service (APS) reported that the plane took off from Algeria's southern Tamanrasset province. Algerian military sources told Ennahar that just prior to the crash, communications between the jet and ground crew ruptured.
Agence France Presse reported that the plane, whose passengers reportedly comprised military personnel as well as their families, carried 99 passengers and four crew members. But the exact number of dead remains unclear – other media sources claim that the craft held 123 people, suggesting there might be some survivors.
Algeria has not witnessed a major plane crash in more than 10 years – in early March 2003, an Air Algerie plane flying from Tamanrasset in the southern part of the country crashed with 103 people, with one person surviving. Associated Press reported that in November 2012, another Algerian military cargo plane crashed in the south of France, killing all six people on board. That aircraft departed from Paris on its way to Algiers and carried five military personnel and one official from Algeria’s national bank. AirDisaster.com records five fatal air crashes involving Air Algerie since 1967.
However, Algeria has a relatively good aviation safety record. In July 2012, with respect to Algerian aircraft, the European Union stated: “SAFA [Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft] inspections since November 2010 showed a favorable trend with the absence of serious safety deficiencies. Corrective and preventive actions were implemented in accordance with the planning. Heightened surveillance is no longer necessary.” In July 2010, European Commission had warned that it would subject Air Algerie to closer scrutiny following “analysis of ramp inspections on its aircraft.” The Commission raised its concerns about the safety of onboard cargo, airworthiness and operation of aircraft, and flight-crew licensing.
Algeria currently has four commercial airlines: Air Algérie, Air Express Algeria, Star Aviation and Tassili Airlines, but Air Algerie, the country’s national airline, is by far the largest.