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More than 100 dead amid reports of explosion

More than 100 people have died after a plane crashed into a field shortly after take-off in Havana, Cuban state television has confirmed.

According to reports, three female survivors have been rushed to hospital and are in a critical condition after emergency services freed them from the wreckage.

The Boeing 737 operated by Cuban airline Cubana de Aviacion is thought to have had 110 people on board, including six crew members and was on its way to the city of Holguin in eastern Cuba.

But it ploughed into a farm field soon after take-off and residents nearby reported sounds of an “explosion”.

Firefighters then tackled a fire coming from the destroyed aircraft, which had just left Jose Marti International Airport.

Emergency services workers dousing
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Emergency services workers dousing flames at the crash site
Firefighters work at the site of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana's Jose Marti airport on May 18, 2018. - A Cuban state airways passenger plane with 113 people on board crashed on shortly after taking off from Havana's airport, state media reported. The Boeing 737 operated by Cubana de Aviacion crashed 'near the international airport,' state agency Prensa Latina reported. Airport sources said the jetliner was heading from the capital to the ea
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Firefighters working through the debris

Photos showed the wings of the plane wedged between scorched trees and the main fuselage completely destroyed.

Government officials and Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel soon visited the crash site and told reporters there was “a high number of victims”.

He was quoted as saying: “There has been an unfortunate aviation accident. The news is not very promising, it seems that there is a high number of victims.”

He later confirmed the fire had been put out and authorities were identifying the bodies of the dead and that an investigation had been opened into the crash.

Gilberto Menendez, who runs a restaurant near the crash site, said he heard an “explosion” and “then saw a big cloud of smoke go up”.

An unnamed military officer called it a “disaster”.

Despite the reports of three survivors, a worker at Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital told the Reuters news agency three people arrived at the hospital but one had died from burns and other trauma. They said the other two were in a serious condition.

Firefighters douse the burning wreckage
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113 people were on board the passenger plane
Emergency services arrive at the scene
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State television confirmed over 100 deaths

Six Mexican crew members were operating the flight, according to an employee of the small Mexican charter company Global Air, which is thought to own the aircraft.

The aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana's Jose Marti airport
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The aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana’s Jose Marti airport

The last major plane crash in Cuba took place in July 1997. An Antonov-24 passenger plane fell into the sea off Santiago de Cuba. All 44 on board were killed.

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