Rescuers found no survivors when they reached the site of the Cuban passenger plane that crashed shortly after 6:00pm Cuban time on Thursday, killing all 68 people on board, Cuba’s Civil Aviation Authority said.
The state-run Aerocaribbean aircraft had been flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to Havana.
The passengers included 40 locals and 28 foreigners of eleven different nationalities; nine Argentines, seven Mexicans, three Dutch, two Austrians, a Japanese passenger, one French, one Spanish, one Italian, and a Venezuelan. Many of the 61 passengers are believed to have been tourists. The crew members were all Cuban.
There is no word on the cause of the crash.
The twice-weekly flight 883 had originated in Port-au-Prince in Haiti and stopped over in Santiago, before heading to the capital, Havana. The pilot reported an emergency before losing contact.
Cuban media reported that while trying to reach the crash scene, emergency crews and local volunteers were forced to used bulldozers in order to get through the thick vegetation.
Crews have recovered a dozen bodies from the wreckage so far, but reported no survivors. A local rural worker described the episode as “a ball of flames in the middle of the mountain”. Other witnesses reported to have seen the plane jolt and jerk aggressively before plummeting to the ground.
Argentine government officials informed that president Cristina Kirchner instructed the nation’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Héctor Timerman to prepare an aircraft to retrieve the Argentina-born victims.
The website cubadebate.cu has published the passenger list, while extending their condolences to the families of the victims.