The media is reporting that a B737 operaiting a domestic flight for Cuba’s flag carrier Cubana de Aviación crashed right after taking off from Havana this morning.
Flight CU972 was scheduled to depart on Friday May 18 at 11am local time (5pm CEST) from Havana’s Jose Martí International airport (HAV) and land 80 minutes later in Holguín (HOG) carrying 104 passengers and 9 crew members.
From CNN (access here):
The flight to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin went down at 12:08 p.m. in an agricultural area in the Santiago de las Vegas neighborhood near the airport, according to Granma. Search and rescue personnel were on the scene, with some residents joining in to help.
The Granma 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 than 700 km (about 435 miles) east of the Cuban capital. Cuban state media originally reported the flight was bound for Guyana.
CNN also obtained video of the smoke column rising from the plane crash site:
— Paul P. Murphy (@murphy_paulp) May 18, 2018
The HAV-HOG route is scheduled to be operated by an Antonov 158, but today it was operated by a wet lease from a charter company. Per CBS news (access here):
Cubana, the country’s national airline company, rented the plane from Blue Panorama, Cuban media reports. Mexican authorities say the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979.
A statement from the country’s Transportation Department identifies the pilot and co-pilot as Capt. Jorge Luis Nunez Santos and first officer Miguel Angel Arreola Ramirez. It says the flight attendants were Maria Daniela Rios, Abigail Hernandez Garcia and Beatriz Limon.
It adds that the plane was rented by Cuban state carrier Cubana de Aviacion from Aerolineas Damojh. That’s the legal name of a small charter company that also goes by Global Air.
The Independent (access here) ellaborates a bit more on the history of the plane:
The aircraft involved is believed to be a Boeing 737-200 on loan from a Mexican airline, Global Aerolineas Damojh of Guadalajara.
The plane was 30 years old, and had flown for seven other airlines — starting with Southwest of the US in 1988, and including a spell with Air Kazakhstan.
Reports say it lost height shortly after take-off and crashed in woodland close to the airport.
CNN is reporting that there are at least 3 survivors.
This is a developing story. If you want to keep up to date I suggest you use the CNN live feed for news related to this accident.