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Algerian Plane Tragedy: Families Mourn Victims of Deadly Crash

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Algerians, many of them weeping, queued at a hospital on Thursday to identify the victims of the country's worst plane disaster which killed 257 people.

Plane

The Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transporter crashed on Wednesday after takeoff from the Boufarik air base southwest of Algiers. Witnesses said a wing had caught fire.

Most of the victims were soldiers but also included some members of the Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed group fighting for the independence of neighboring Western Sahara, a territory also claimed by Morocco in a long-running dispute.

The plane, which had also been carrying refugees, was meant to land in Tindouf on the border with Western Sahara, where tens of thousands of people displaced by the standoff live in camps. 

Relatives hugged coffins draped in the Algerian flag after receiving the bodies of their kin at a military hospital in Algiers where victims had been brought. Many women prayed while others held up pictures of dead relatives.

"You feel as you have lost your brother. I lost two of my friends in this crash," 20-year old Ahmed said.

Most merchants near the airbase remained closed for business in a mark of respect for the dead and their families.

State radio said the pilot had averted an even worse disaster by bringing the plane down in a field away from a nearby busy highway.

Mourners come from across the vast North African country, including the capital Algiers, where tens of people gathered outside the home of Seddiki Mehre, the plane's co-pilot. 

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

 

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