Hamid Ould Ahmed

April 12 2018 2:30 AM

Witnesses said they had seen a wing catch fire shortly after the plane took off.More than 250 people were killed yesterday when a military plane crashed in a field near Algiers, the capital of Algeria.

Dozens of firefighters, rescuers and military officials worked around the blackened fuselage of the aircraft, which had been ripped open near its wings.

Bits of mangled and smouldering debris were scattered across the field near Boufarik airport, south-west of Algiers. Earlier TV images showed flames and smoke billowing from the site of the crash.

“At around 8am an Ilyushin model military transport plane crashed directly after take-off in an agricultural field that was clear of residents,” Major General Boualem Madi said.

A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to the wreck.

“After taking off, with the plane at a height of 150 metres I saw the fire on its wing. The pilot avoided crashing on the road when he changed the flight path to the field,” Abd El Karim, a witness, said.

A total of 257 people were killed, most of them military, the defence ministry said.

Ten crew and other people described as family members died, and a number of survivors were being treated at an army hospital, the ministry added.

Irish Independent