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Cuban Passenger Plane Crashes in Central Cuba

Friday, 05 November 2010 08:46 AM

A Cuban passenger plane flying from Santiago de Cuba to Havana crashed and burst into flames, killing all 68 people aboard.

The AeroCaribbean flight crashed yesterday near the town of Guasimal in Sancti Spiritus province, central Cuba, according to a statement from the nation’s civil aviation institute. The plane reported an emergency at 5:42 p.m. local time before losing contact with air-traffic controllers.

The ATR-72 turboprop aircraft was carrying 61 passengers and seven crew. There were 40 Cuban nationals and 28 foreigners on the plane. Authorities are investigating the crash, the aviation institute said.

The crash took place as Tropical Storm Tomas strengthened over the Caribbean Sea after triggering deadly landslides in Costa Rica. Cuba’s meteorological institute had predicted that the storm would cause strong winds in Santiago as it passed eastern Cuba, according to a statement late yesterday.

AeroCaribbean didn’t immediately respond for comment. Havana-based AeroCaribbean, owned by Cuban state airline Cubana de Aviacion, operates domestic services and flights to the Caribbean and South America.

The last fatal passenger-plane crash in Cuba was in March 2002, when an Antonov 2R operated by local charter company Aerotaxi went down in central Cuba, killing 16 passengers, according to a Flight Safety Foundation’s website.

ATR-72 planes are made by Avions De Transport Regional, a Toulouse, France-based venture between European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. and Finmeccanica SpA.

Separately, 20 people were killed in a plane crash in Pakistan today. The aircraft was chartered by Rome-based Eni SpA, said Marianna Croning, a spokeswoman in the oil company’s Karachi office.

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