Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

More than 100 people feared dead after Boeing 737 crashes near Havana's Jose Marti International Airport

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery

More than 100 people are feared to have died after a plane crashed shortly after taking off from Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.

The plane, which was carrying 104 passengers and nine crew, crashed in a farm field.

Initial reports suggested only three survivors were pulled from the wreckage.

The Boeing 737 was operated by state airline Cubana, according to Cuban state media.

Officials said the plane was headed to the eastern city of Holguin when it crashed a short distance from the end of the runway on the southern outskirts of Havana.

There was no immediate word on casualties. Credit: AP

Government officials including President Miguel Diaz-Canel rushed to the site, along with a large number of emergency medical workers.

Survivors were taken to University Hospital General Caliixto Garcia, where several police cars were positioned in preparation to assist.

Relatives of passengers were being asked to gather at an airline terminal.

US Ambassador to Cuba Jose Ramon Cabanas wrote: "Aerial crash in Cuba.

"Cuban Television has just confirmed the news that several digital media are reporting.

"Flight carried 104 passengers.

"Authorities and rescue forces in place, near the airport."

Emergency personnel at the site of the accident near Havana's Jose Marti airport. Credit: AP

The plane was rented by Cubana, which has taken many of its aging planes out of service in recent months due to mechanical problems.

The airline is notorious among Cubans for its frequent delays and cancellations, which Cubana blames on a lack of parts and airplanes due to the US trade embargo on the island.

Friday's crash was Cuba's third major fatal accident since 2010.

Last year, a Cuban military plane crashes into a hillside in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board.

In November 2010, an AeroCaribbean flight from Santiago to Havana went down in bad weather as it flew over central Cuba, killing all 68 people, including 28 foreigners, in what was Cuba's worst air disaster in more than two decades.

Friday's crash was Cuba's third major fatal accident since 2010. Credit: AP

Cubana’s director general, Capt. Hermes Hernandez Dumas, told state media last month that Cubana’s domestic flights had carried 11,700 more passengers than planned between January and April 2018. It said that 64 percent of flights had taken off on time, up from 59 percent the previous year.

“Among the difficulties created by the U.S. trade embargo is our inability to acquire latest-generation aircraft with technology capable of guaranteeing the stability of aerial operations,” Hernandez said. “Another factor is obtaining parts for Cubana’s aircraft.”