Cuban Airliner Crashes Outside Havana, All 126 Aboard Reported Dead
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A Cuban jetliner carrying European tourists exploded and crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff from Havana’s Jose Marti airport and all 126 people aboard were killed, Cuba’s official news agency reported.
The Mexican news agency Notimex said 63 people on the ground were injured when the plane crashed in a Havana suburb. The Soviet news agency Tass said the plane crashed 0.6 miles from the runway, damaging 20 houses.
The Cuban agency, Prensa Latina, said the Cubana de Aviacion passenger jetliner, a Soviet-made Ilyushin 62, was carrying 115 passengers and 11 crew.
It said Flight 9046 was bound for Milan, Italy, with a stop in Cologne, West Germany.
Cuban television interrupted its regular programming to show the plane engulfed in flames, Mexico’s Excelsior news agency reported.
The Prensa Latina report, monitored in Mexico City, quoted Cuban state radio and television as saying there were no survivors.
The agency said the plane exploded shortly after takeoff. The government did not elaborate on the cause of the accident and formed a commission to investigate the cause, Prensa Latina said.
Notimex quoted Radio Reloj in Havana as saying 63 people were hospitalized with injuries when the pieces of the plane showered on houses in a Havana suburb. Prensa Latina did not mention casualties on the ground.
Both Notimex and Tass said all but two of the passengers were Italian or West German tourists. Tass said the four-engine jetliner was on a return charter flight.
The Tass report, moniitored in London by the British Broadcasting Co., said all approaches to the road leading to the airport had been blocked off by traffic police. The report said first aid vehicles and fire engines were seen racing to the airport.
Cuban President Fidel Castro and other senior officials went to the crash site soon after the crash at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. EDT), Prensa Latina said.
The Spanish news agency EFE said there was a heavy downpour with thunder and lightning at the time of the crash.
Air traffic was temporarily suspended with planes being diverted to the airport at Varadero, about 90 miles east of Havana, EFE quoted airport workers as saying.
The last accident at the Havana airport occurred in 1985, involving a Cubana de Aviation plane en route to Managua, Nicaragua. The 40 people aboard were killed.