Devastated family of Cuba plane crash victims break down in tears as investigators reveal 20 priests among dead

An investigation has been launched into the crash on Friday in which 107 people died.

The Cabana Airways Boeing 737 was travelling from Havana to Holguin on a domestic flight when it came down just after taking off from Jose Marti International Airport.

Horrifying footage emerged showing the aircraft exploding, with a fireball rising up from behind trees.

By-standers in the street can be heard gasping in shock.

The 40-year-old aircraft was leased to the national carrier Cubana de Aviacion by a Mexican company.

Only three people were pulled alive from the wreckage – all women.

They are believed to be the only known survivors of the tragedy.

As details of victims began to emerge, the Cuban Council of Churches confirmed that 20 priests from an evangelical church were among the deceased.

Maite Quesada, a member of the council, said: "On that plane were 10 couples of pastors. Twenty people. All of the Nazarene Church in the eastern region."

The group has spent several days at a meeting in the capital and were returning to their homes and churches in the province of Holguin.

The UK Foreign Office told Sun Online it was in contact with the Cuban authorities to investigate whether there were any British passengers aboard.

The airliner came down in a field and wooded area, with firefighters spraying water on its smouldering wreckage.

Bodies and parts of the aircraft have been found scattered about the area.

State-controlled media said there were only three survivors out of a total of 110 crew and passengers.

They were said to be fighting for their lives.

Government officials including President Miguel Diaz-Canel rushed to the site, along with a large number of emergency medical workers and ambulances.

Pictures showed survivors being ferried to ambulances before being rushed to hospital.

Relatives of passengers rushed to the scene, among them a man who said his wife and niece had been on board.

He declined to provide his full name before he was taken to an airline terminal where relatives were being asked to gather.

"My daughter is 24, my God, she's only 24!" cried Beatriz Pantoja, whose daughter Leticia was on board the plane.

Carlos Alberto Martinez, director of Havana's Calixto Garcia hospital, said four victims of the crash had been were brought there but one died.

A relative of one survivor said: "She is alive but very burnt and swollen."

The Boeing 737-201 aircraft was built in 1979 and leased by Cuban airline Cubana from a small Mexican company called Damojh, according to the Mexican government.

The plane was on an internal flight from Havana to the eastern city of Holguin and was carrying mainly Cuban passengers, with five foreigners, including two Argentinians.

It was almost completely destroyed in the crash and fire that followed.

Damojh in Mexico said it did not immediately have any more information.

Cubana declined to comment.

The crash Friday was Cuba's third major fatal accident since 2010.

Last year, a Cuban military plane crashes into a hillside in the western province of Artemisa, killing eight troops on board.

In November 2010, an AeroCaribbean flight from Santiago to Havana went down in bad weather as it flew over central Cuba, killing all 68 people, including 28 foreigners, in what was Cuba's worst air disaster in more than two decades.

Communist Party leader and former president Raul Castro declared a period of national mourning, which began at dawn on Saturday and continued until to midnight on Sunday.


Source: Read Full Article