NINETY PEOPLE have been killed in near-simultaneous overnight air crashes in Cuba and Pakistan.
All 68 people – including a crew of seven – died when their aircraft went down near Guasimal, a southern town in the Santi Spiritus provence of Cuba. It is not yet known what has caused the crash, which saw the plane flying west from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to the country’s capital, Havana, to crash in mountainous terrain.
The BBC reports that 28 of the 61 passengers on board were foreign nationals, including nine Argentines, seven Mexicans, three Dutch citizens, two Germans, two Austrians, and one citizen from each of France, Italy, Venezuela and Japan.
The plane had reported an emergency before contact was lost with the aircraft, which went down amid terrain so heavy that emergency workers had to bulldoze their way through thick plantlife to reach the scene of the crash.
One eyewitness claimed to have seen a ‘giant fireball’ in the sky before the plane grounded. The plane had stopped off at Santiago de Cuba on its way from Port-au-Prince in Haiti.
A separate crash in Pakistan, meanwhile, killed all 22 people on board when it crashed shortly after take-off at an airport in Karachi, in the south of the country.
The Daily Telegraph says local aviation officials reported advising the plane, which had indicated some engine trouble, to return to the airport but the plane was unable to make it back to the runway.
The victims, all of whom were understood to be Pakistani nationals, working for Italian-owned oil company ENI, were being flown by two pilots to an oil field to begin their working day when the accident occurred.
“The plane has been destroyed,” Lt Colonel Noor Agha, an army official supervising recovery operations, told the Los Angeles Times. “The dead bodies are burned beyond recognition. It could not be recognized whether they are men or women. We don’t know nationalities.”