HAVANA – A Boeing 737 plane crashed on Friday shortly after taking off from Havana’s main airport, carrying 104 passengers plus crew on a domestic flight, Cuban state-run media reported.
The number of casualties was not immediately known, but Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, visiting the site of the crash, told Agence France Presse: “It appears there is a high number of victims.”
Wreckage was strewn over the area and ambulances and firefighters were at the scene, said a Reuters witness. The fire had been put out, and blackened parts of the fuselage could be seen.
A worker at Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital told Reuters three victims of the accident had arrived so far. One had died from burns and other trauma and the other two were in a serious state.
The ruling Communist Party newspaper, Granma, said three people had survived.
The plane crashed in the agricultural area in Boyeros, some 20 km (12 miles) south of Havana. The flight was destined for Holguin and operated by national airline Cubana, state-run TV reported.
“A column of black smoke rose up in the sky,” said Ana Gonzalez, a nearby resident.
Flight tracking websites indicated the flight was CU972, departing Havana at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT).
Boeing Co said in a Twitter post: “We are aware of news reports out of Cuba and are closely monitoring the situation.”
The aircraft was possibly leased from a small Mexican airline called Damojh, Cuban state media said.
“There is still no information, we are gathering what we can to give correct information,” a Damojh representative told Reuters in Mexico. “As the day progresses there will be more information.”
The last fatal crash in Cuba was in 2017, the Aviation Safety Network said. It was a military flight that killed all eight personnel aboard. In 2010, a commercial Aero Caribbean plane crashed in central Cuba. All 68 people on board were killed.