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Algeria plane crash: At least 257 killed in country's worst aviation disaster

Casualty numbers from crash near military airport rise rapidly
An Algerian military plane crashed near an airport outside Algiers (Reuters)

At least 257 people were killed when an Algerian military transport plane crashed on Wednesday, the defence ministry has confirmed, in the country's worst air disaster.

The crash occurred near Boufarik airport close to the capital Algiers shortly after take-off. Television footage showed crowds and emergency vehicles massing around the smoking and flaming wreckage near Boufarik airport southwest of Algiers.

A line of white body bags could be seen on the ground next to what media said was a Russian Ilyushin transport plane.

A military source told al Arabiya that there were no survivors. The dead include the plane's 10 crew and 247 passengers, most of them members of the armed forces, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Victims also include 26 members of the Western Saharan Polisario independence movement, an official in Algeria's ruling FLN party said.

FLN Secretary General Djamel made the comment to private broadcaster Ennahar TV. 

The plane was headed to Tindouf in Algeria's south, home to camps for refugees from a long-running territorial dispute in Western Sahara, when it crashed.

The aircraft is an Ilyushin II-76, which should be capable of carrying around 120 passengers, according to a military source, who did not want to be named. 

Footage from the scene showed thick smoke being emitted from the wreckage.

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