The crash of a military plane in southern Morocco has killed 78 people, according to reports.

The aircraft, a Hercules C-130 transport plane, was carrying 81 people from Dakhla in the disputed Western Sahara territory before it crashed into a mountain while trying to land at the airport in the town of Guelmim, 700 kilometers south of Rabat, the capital.

Reportedly, the plane lost direction due to thick fog and bad weather in the mountainous terrain.

The people aboard the craft comprised nine crew members, 60 soldiers and 12 civilians.

The Moroccan army stated that 42 bodies have been found, while the other three passengers were seriously wounded.

An investigation into the causes of the crash is underway.

The Western Sahara, which is rich in minerals, has long been fought over between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which is supported by neighboring Algeria. Morocco took control of the region in 1979, however the native Saharawi people seek to want establish an independent state there.