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Cuba mourns after over 100 killed in plane crash

Cuba began a two-day period of official mourning Saturday, as investigators continued the grim work of combing throug...

Posted: May 20, 2018 4:27 PM
Updated: May 20, 2018 4:27 PM

Cuba began a two-day period of official mourning Saturday, as investigators continued the grim work of combing through the wreckage of the crashed plane that took the lives of over 100 people.

Cubana de Aviaci-n flight DMJ 0972 was traveling from Havana to Holgu-n when the plane crashed as it was taking off at 12:08 p.m. on Friday.

Amateur video taken shortly after the crash showed a large fireball and thick plume of smoke rising from a field and wooded area bordering the airport.

The Boeing 737-200 was split in several sections, with the plane's burned tail resting against a tree. Passenger belongings were scattered across a wide area.

The death toll is now 110, Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodr-guez said at a Saturday press conference in Havana. The minister said that the victims included 99 Cubans, six Mexican crew members and five foreigners. Among the passengers were four children and an infant, Cuban state media reported.

Three survivors -- all Cuban women -- were in critical condition and being treated in Havana, Cuban state media said.

Argentina's Foreign Ministry said two passengers were Argentine.

One of the three survivors was identified by the state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde as Emiley S-nchez de la O, 39, of the province of Holgu-n, Cuba. The woman was being treated for serious burns, a broken leg and traumatic brain injury. She had been placed on a ventilator, according to the newspaper.

Cuban state TV identified the other two survivors as Maylen Diaz, 19, from Holgu-n and Gretel Androceo, 23, from Havana.

The state-run newspaper Granma reported Friday that one of the three survivors had died, then issued a correction, saying all three were still alive.

Authorities announced Saturday that they had recovered all the remains of the deceased. Officials estimate identifying the victims could take up to 30 days and are asking relatives to help in the process, Cuban state TV reported.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel toured the crash site on Friday and said Cuban officials would seek to determine what caused the crash.

"In addition to lament what occurred and show solidarity to the families," he said. "The events will be investigated and all the information will be shared."

One of the "black boxes" from the plane has been found and is in "good condition," Rodr-guez told Cuban government site Cubadebate. It's not clear if the located "black box" is the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

Former Cuban President Raul Castro, recovering from recent hernia surgery, is aware of the crash and is staying informed about the situation, the government said.

Family members of the victims from the city of Holgu-n, Cuba -- more than 700 km (about 435 miles) east of the Cuban capital -- were being brought by bus to Havana to meet with Cuban officials late Friday, according to Cuban state media.

The Cuban government issued a proclamation that the island would observe a period of official mourning from 6 a.m. Saturday morning until midnight on Sunday, and that flags at public buildings and military installations would fly at half staff.

It was not immediately clear what caused the Boeing 737-200 to suddenly crash as it was taking off.

While the plane was flying a route for Cuba's largest national carrier Cubana, the nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737-200 was owned by the Mexican airline Aerol-neas Damoh and leased to Cubana de Aviacion, the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

The arrangement known as a "wet lease" allows one carrier to provide an aircraft, crew and maintenance to another carrier.

In recent weeks, Cubana has canceled domestic flights and removed planes from service over safety concerns with its own aircraft.

Much of the crash area remained cordoned off Saturday, as Cuban officials continued their investigation into the accident.

Residents said the plane narrowly missed causing more injuries and fatalities on the ground.

"The plane was revving its engines to take off but it couldn't," Orestes Bentancour, who witnessed the crash, told CNN. "Luckily it didn't land on anyone's house."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
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Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
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Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
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Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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