A military aircraft carrying 103 people has crashed in Algeria’s mountainous northeast, with a sole survivor found from one of the country’s deadliest air disasters.
The C-130 Hercules aircraft, which crashed in the Oum El Bouaghi region, was carrying 99 passengers – soldiers and their families – as well as four crew members, a security source said.
“We have found a survivor and the search continues,” emergency services official Colonel Farid Nechad told public radio.
The emergency services have so far recovered 71 bodies from the crash site, public radio reported.
There was no immediate word on the condition of the survivor.
The plane was flying from the desert garrison town of Tamanrasset in the deep south to the city of Constantine, 320 kilometres east of the capital, and lost contact with the control tower as it was beginning its descent.
The aircraft slammed into Mount Fertas about noon, state media quoted army spokesman Colonel Bouguern as saying.
Preliminary reports indicated that poor weather was to blame, with heavy snow and strong winds sweeping the region.
Tamanrasset, in the far south of Algeria, near the border with Mali, is the main base for the country’s southern military operations.
Extra troops and equipment have been stationed there in recent months as part of efforts to beef up surveillance of Algeria’s frontiers with Mali and Libya.
The city lies 1500 kilometres from Constantine, and was the site of the last major plane crash in Algeria, in March 2003.
In that disaster, an Air Algerie passenger plane crashed on take-off, after one of its engines caught fire, killing all but one of 103 people aboard.