Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Algiers — An Algerian military aircraft crashed on Wednesday shortly after taking off from an airbase outside the capital, a military source said.

At least 257 people, mostly soldiers and members of their families, the defence ministry said. The dead include the plane’s 10 crew and 247 passengers, most of them members of the armed forces, the ministry said in a statement.

According to an AFP photographer at the scene, thick black smoke rose from the wreckage of the aircraft, which crashed in a field near the base. Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of fire trucks rushed to the scene.

The aircraft is an Ilyushin II-76, the military source said, asking not to be named. The plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Boufarik airbase, about 25km south-west of the capital Algiers.

In February 2014, 77 people died when a military aircraft carrying army personnel and family members crashed between Tamanrasset in southern Algeria and the eastern city of Constantine. The C-130 Hercules transport plane came down in the mountainous Oum El Bouaghi region.

In July 2014, an Air Algerie passenger jet flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers crashed in northern Mali, killing all 116 people on board including 54 French nationals.