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Algeria in mourning after its most deadly plane crash

– ‘Tragic!’ –

Images of the plane’s burned-out frame dominated the front pages of Algeria’s newspapers.

Francophone daily Liberte led with the headline “Tragic!”, while the official Arabic language paper El Moudjahid quoted Bouteflika calling the accident a “painful test” for the country.

Several papers praised the pilot, Smail Doucene, citing witnesses who said he had managed to steer the plane away from nearby homes.

“The pilot saved hundreds of people from certain death,” wrote Arabic-language El Khabar.

The Ilyushin IL-76 transport plane was bound for Tindouf in southwest Algeria near the borders with Morocco and Western Sahara.

The North African country has suffered a string of military and civilian aviation disasters, but Wednesday’s was Algeria’s deadliest ever plane crash and the world’s fourth costliest in human lives in 20 years.

Despite no details emerging on the cause of the disaster, several newspapers underlined the poor state of the Algerian military’s ageing aircraft.

Several previous accidents were due to “poor maintenance of the military air fleet” said Arabic-language daily El Khabar.

Liberte said that “to date… very little if nothing has filtered out regarding investigations” into previous accidents

Two Algerian military planes collided mid-flight in December 2012 during a training exercise in Tlemcen, in the far west of the country, killing the pilots of both planes.

In February 2014, 77 people died when a military plane carrying army personnel and family members crashed between Tamanrasset in southern Algeria and the eastern city of Constantine.

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