2047, Algeria | AFP | Algerians on Thursday mourned 257 people killed in a military plane crash the day before, the country’s worst-ever aviation catastrophe, with no indication yet of the cause.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced three days of national mourning after the plane slammed into a field near the Boufarik airbase 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Algiers shortly after it took off on Wednesday.
The aircraft was mostly carrying army personnel and their family members on their way back to their barracks in the country’s far south.
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Flags flew at half mast on public buildings and foreign embassies in the capital on Thursday as government departments observed a minute’s silence.
There was no announcement regarding funeral arrangements, as many of the victims’ bodies had yet to be identified.
Several large companies took out advertising space in newspapers to offer condolences to the families of the 10 crew members and 247 passengers who died.
Mosques across the country are set to hold prayers of mourning on Friday.
The Algerian authorities have announced an investigation into the crash, but so far there has been no details of any findings.
The plane, which came down shortly after being refuelled, erupted into flames before it hit the ground, witnesses told AFP.
#algeriaplanecrash #Algeria These are the moving testimonies of the #father and #brother of the late Aziz, who died yesterday Wednesday after the tragic #Military plane crash in Boufarik in Blida wilaya that killed 257 people. pic.twitter.com/Uqo0c3H8P4
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Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of fire trucks with sirens wailing rushed to the scene of the crash, in an uninhabited area where one person was injured on the ground by debris.
Firefighters took two hours to extinguish the blaze, Algerian media reported.
The Ain Naadja military hospital in Algiers, where the bodies were transported, has set up a psychological support unit for victims’ relatives and witnesses of the accident.
Several cultural events planned for the coming days were cancelled.