Algerian C-130 Crashes into Mountain Djebel Fertas
Air traffic controllers lost radio and radar contact with the Algerian C-130 serial number 7T-WHM (MSN 4919) just before noon and dispatched helicopters to try to find it. The plane was discovered in pieces on Djebel Fertas near the town of Ain Kercha, 30 miles southeast of Constantine, the main city in eastern Algeria.
The plane had taken off from the southern Saharan city of Tamanrasset, which has a massive military presence due to its proximity to the country’s unstable southern borders, and was heading to Constantine.
It carried 74 passengers and four crew members, the military said in the statement, blaming poor weather for the crash.
Preliminary reports by the Algerian government officials and Algerian state media had cited that the plane had 99 passengers, making for a much higher death toll.
The lone survivor – a soldier – suffered head injuries and was treated at a nearby military facility before being flown to the military hospital in Algiers, a retired intelligence officer told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Civil defense officials at the snowy crash site said the plane broke into three parts and women and children were among the dead. Military transports in Algeria routinely carry not only soldiers but military families visiting army bases and sometimes even other civilians, if space is available.
“Unfavorable weather conditions and storms accompanied by snow in the region were behind the crash,” the defense ministry said.
The presidency announced a three-day period of mourning, calling the soldiers who had died “martyrs for the country.”
Lockheed Martin’s hulking turboprop C-130 Hercules transport, born out of the experiences of the 1950-53 Korean War, has been used by air forces all over the world to help fight wars or save lives in humanitarian situations.
Lockheed Martin Corp. confirmed that it sold C-130s to Algeria from 1981 to 1990 and said if Algerian authorities asked, the company would work with them to investigate the crash. It did not release specific information on the age of the plane that crashed.
In other crashes involving similar planes, six people died in November 2012 when an Algerian Air Force C-130 crashed into a hillside in France, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s database. In 2003, 10 people died when an Algerian Air Force C-130 crashed after an engine caught fire shortly after it took off from an air base near Boufarik, Algeria, according to the database.