More than 100 killed in Cuba plane crash, state media reports

Picture taken at the scene of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana’s Jose Marti airport on May 18, 2018. (Photo credit YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

HAVANA — Cuban authorities believe more than 100 people were killed Friday when a Cubana de Aviacion Boeing 737-200 crashed on takeoff from Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. Three passengers were in critical condition after surviving the crash, state-run media reported.

The flight was headed to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin, an airport source told CNN.

The plane went down at 12:08 p.m. in the Santiago de las Vegas neighborhood near the airport, according to Cuba’s state-run newspaper Granma. The report included a photo from an airport terminal of a large plume of black smoke rising in the distance.

The aircraft for Flight DMJ 0972 had been rented by the airline, according to Granma.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is at the scene of the accident, the newspaper reported.

Holguin is more 700 kilometers (about 500) miles east of the Cuban capital. Cuban state media originally reported that the flight was bound for Guyana.

A large fireball followed by a towering plume of smoke was visible near the airport on the outskirts of Havana, according to witnesses.

Cubana de Aviacion — Cuba’s national carrier — has had to ground some of its aging fleet because of safety issues, though the cause of Friday’s crash is unknown.

Developing story – more to come