On Wednesday morning, a plane crash involving a military transport aircraft reportedly killed 257 people, including ten crew members. The above photo shows the wreckage near the Boufarik air base, situated between the capital Algiers and Bilda, and the horrific scene marks the deadliest plane crash since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
An investigation into the crash’s cause has commenced, and the BBC reports that three days of national mourning have been declared by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who’s honoring the cause of those who were killed:
Most of the dead are army personnel and their families, the defence ministry says … A senior member of the ruling FLN party said 26 members of the Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed separatist group in Western Sahara, were also among the dead.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the Spanish colonial power withdrew in 1975. The Polisario Front has been fighting for independence since 1976 and has a government-in exile-in Algeria.
CNN reports word from Algerian TV station Ennahar, which has been airing footage of the plane’s smoking fuselage with “dozens of bodies” (many with deep burn marks) being placed into bags. Ennahar also reportedly featured witnesses who saw one engine spewing flames during the plane’s takeoff. In addition, first responders are still working the scene while cranes have been called in to move debris and locate any possible survivors. Miraculously, the New York Times reports that paramedics have rescued at least two people, according to an Algerian Defense Ministry official, and the search continues.