The crash of the military transport plane that killed 257 people on Wednesday was Algeria’s deadliest ever. There have been little accountability for similar disasters in the past.
The Ilyushin aircraft carrying soldiers and some civilians crashed into a field seconds after it took off from the Boufarik military base. A base located 15 miles southwest of the capital, Algiers. The plane, once touched the ground exploded into flames, sending a huge column of black smoke into the air. Only a few people survived.
The cause of the crash is not yet known and Algeria’s Defense Ministry began an investigation. But there was little prospect of any political repercussions in a country that has come to be seen as the region’s giant.
The crash happened shortly before 8am when people near the Boufarik base saw flames coming from one engine as the plane took off the airports runway, says a private television of Algerie. Seconds later, as the plane reached an altitude of 1,000 feet or 300m, it lurched and plunged to the ground like a rock.
Some witnesses told a private television that the plane landed on one wing before crashing into the field. There, it broke apart and exploded into flames. Now, say investigators, it is time to understand what caused the crash. This is possible thanks to the black boxes of the plane.
Most of the victims were soldiers and their families, although the flight also included 30 members of Western Sahara’s Polisario independence movement, and an official in Algeria’s governing F.L.N. party. Mr. Bouteflika, president of Algeria declared three days of national mourning.