More Than 100 Feared Dead After Plane Crashes Near Havana Airport

May 18, 2018

Updated at 3:43 p.m. ET

A plane carrying more than 100 people crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana’s José Martí International Airport on Friday. The plane, a Boeing 737, had been destined for the city of Holguín when it crashed in a field shortly after noon.

The state-run Granma news agency says at least 105 passengers were aboard along with an unspecified number of foreign crew, adding that it is believed at least three people survived the crash. The survivors have been hospitalized in critical condition, Granma reports.

Officials have not immediately released information regarding casualties or what caused the crash.

Firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze that broke out among the wreckage, according to local media, which note that the plane appeared burned and blackened. Witnesses reported having seen spiraling columns of black smoke rising from the crashed plane.

Cuba’s newly inaugurated president, President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, rushed to the site of the crash along with other government officials.

“The news is not very promising,” Díaz-Canel said, according to to local media, “it seems that there is a high number of victims.”

The country’s state-run airline, Cubana, had been renting the plane from the Mexico-based firm Global Air. As NPR’s Carrie Kahn explains, “Cubana Airlines has been renting planes since many of its aging aircraft have been taken out of service in recent months due to mechanical problems.”

Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, noted that it is “aware of news reports out of Cuba and [is] closely monitoring the situation.”

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We’ll move quickly to correct the record, and we’ll only point to the best information we have at the time.

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