More than 100 people died in Cuba’s plane crash

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More than 100 people died on Friday after a plane in Cuba crashed during takeoff from Jose Marti International airport, a state-run media said.

The 39 years old Cubana de Aviacion Boeing 737-200 plane was one of the oldest commercial aircraft in service. Reports say it lost height shortly after take-off and crashed in woodland close to the airport.

Authorities said there were 104 passengers and nine foreign crew members on the flight that was headed to the eastern city of Holguin. Witnesses said they saw a thick column of smoke near the airport.

Three women who survived were in a critical condition. Rescuers rushed to the spot within 12 minutes.

Residents of the rural area said they had seen some survivors being taken away in ambulances.

The flight which had been scheduled to leave at 11 am local time and land an hour and 20 minutes. But the jet failed to make its destination and came down close to its departure airport, crashing into a field and railway line.

An official death toll is yet to be released. Argentina’s foreign minister said two Argentines were among dead.

Cuba declared a national mourning until May 20. Cuban President Raul Castro offered condolences to the families of the victims of the catastrophic accident.

The Friday’s crash was Cuba’s third major fatal accident since 2010.

Last year, a Cuban military plane crashed into a hillside in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board. In November 2010, a domestic passenger plane with 61 passengers and 7 crew members crashed in central Cuba.

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