Plane crash kills 100 in Cuba, 3 survivors in critical condition

A MIDDAY plane crash near Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport has claimed over 100 lives while the three survivors are in critical condition at the Capital’s Calixto Garcia University Hospital.

A Boeing 737-200 aircraft leased by Cubana de Aviación operating a domestic route from the capital Havana to the eastern province of Holguin crashed soon after take-off at 12.08 pm local time yesterday.

“At 12:08 pm today [Friday], a Boeing 737-200, leased by Cubana de Aviación, with a contracted foreign crew and 104 passengers aboard, traveling from Havana to Holguín on flight DMJ 0972, fell to the ground as it was taking off, in an area between José Martí International Airport and the town of Santiago de Las Vegas. Search and rescue teams are at the site. More information will be forthcoming on the unfortunate accident,” the initial report from the Ministry of Transport indicated.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, who alongside several other island authorities rushed to the accident site few minutes after crash, said, “This is an unfortunate aviation accident and we are obliged to wait, because the news is not promising. In the name of the Cuban government and the Communist Party of Cuba, we lament the event and join those offering condolences to the families for this tragic accident. Within a short time, the maximum transportation authorities were here. Here is the minister… authorities from the city, the airport, the Ministry of the Interior, that of Public Health, forensics… and all measures prepared for this type of event were adopted. The fire was extinguished; a commission is investigating the facts. In addition to lamenting the events and expressing solidarity with the families, the events are being investigated and all the information will be made available. No workplace or dwelling was damaged. The population has behaved with much discipline and is collaborating.”

President Diaz-Canel said the aircraft crashed in a crop field between the municipalities of Boyeros and Santiago de Las Vegas, an area with a total population of 800 but that there was human or housing loss on the ground.

“The [local] population has behaved with a lot of discipline and has been collaborating in search and rescue operations,” he said.

The aircraft (Flight DMJ 0972) was rented by Cubana de Aviación from Damojh Global Airlines of Mexico to cover Cubana domestic needs.

By press time Friday, three passengers had survived the accident. They were hospitalized in critical condition. Initially they were four comprising three female and a male. However, the man couldn’t make it.

Calixto Garcia Hospital director Dr Martinez Blanco said his entity was prepared to respond to this type of emergency.

“One patient is undergoing surgery at this time, and one is being examined to determine next steps. Four survivors were transported to the hospital. The only male victim has died, and the three women are in critical condition are being treated,” said Dr Blanco.

The Central Criminalistics Laboratory affiliated with the Civil Aeronautics Institute was conducting investigations. On the other hand, families of the passengers made facial reconstructions or provided photos and other information about the deceased to help identify bodies. Cuban authorities said they would provide family members accommodation necessary during their stay in the capital. By 17.00 hours local time, Frank País International Airport in Holguín had established a special command post and Army Corps General Ramón Espinosa Martín the deputy minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Chief of the Eastern Strategic Region; first secretary of the Party in the province Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar; and Julio César Estupiñán, president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power were at hand to attend of families of the victims who were scheduled to depart Holguin for Havana at 22.00 pm for Havana to help in identifying bodies.

Information is still in a conflicting phase but official media report that passengers and crew members totaled 105 including one infant under two years and four other children.

Local residents helped locate the remains of the aircraft. Six fire trucks and several ambulances were at the site of the accident. The aircraft was rented by Cubana de Aviación from Global Airlines of Mexico. The Boeing 737-200 is a twin-engined short-range narrowbody airliner with a capacity of maximum 136 passengers produced by the American manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The Boeing 737-200 is a developed of the 737-100 with a stretched fuselage. The 737-200 is together with the 737-100 member of the Original-737-Family.

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