Passenger plane crashes near Havana
UPDATE: A group of pastors and their spouses from the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba were among the 113 on board a Boeing 737 plane that crashed after takeoff Friday in Havana. Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez said 110 passengers and crew members died in the crash with three women survivors remaining in critical condition, updating earlier reports. He also said investigators had recovered the jet’s black box voice recorder. Leonel López, president of the Church of the Nazarene Cuba, said the pastors and their spouses were heading home to Holguín after a three-day national conference in Havana. “Our blessed and joyful pastors and their spouses were among those who lost their lives, but we know that they are in Heaven with the Lord,” he wrote. It was unclear Saturday whether nine or 10 couples from the denomination were on board the plane. A pastor who rode with the group to the airport said, “This morning, on their way to the airport, some of them testified that they were prepared to encounter their God, which is humanly impossible to explain.” The driver of the bus added, “They were singing and praying in the guagua [bus] the whole way to the airport.” Mexico City–based Damojh Aerolíneas owned and maintained the plane and provided the crew in a rental arrangement with Cuba’s national airline, Cubana de Aviacion.
UPDATE (10:05 a.m.): Three people survived a plane crash in Cuba Friday but remain in grave condition Saturday as investigators try to determine why a 39-year-old Boeing 737 went down and burst into flames shortly after takeoff from Havana. The domestic flight headed to Holguín had 104 passengers and six crew members on board. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said a special commission had been formed to find the cause of the crash. It was Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades and its third major air accident since 2010.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (5/18/18, 2:40 p.m.): A Boeing 737 operated by state airline Cubana crashed on takeoff from José Martí International Airport in Havana on Friday with 104 passengers and six crew members on board, Cuban media reported. The plane came to rest in a farm field where firefighters sprayed the charred fuselage with hoses. There was no immediate word on casualties, but an official on the scene said there appeared to be few survivors. The plane was headed to the eastern Cuba city of Holguín when it crashed between the airport in southern Havana and the nearby town of Santiago de las Vegas.
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