Live Updates: Cuban Plane Carrying 105 Crashes After Takeoff in Havana, 3 Survivors

TOPSHOT - Emergency personnel works 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 …
Yamil LAGE / AFP

Emerging reports Friday say a Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after taking off from José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuba. The Cubana aircraft, carrying 105 passengers, went down near a high school in the Boyeros neighborhood at 12.30 pm EST.

The plane was reportedly flying from Havana east to the city of Holguín. Including staff, authorities confirmed 113 people onboard.

Update 5:11PM ETGranma claims the Cuban government has deployed their top forensic doctor, Jorge González, to help families identify victims. González helped identify the remains of communist murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara upon the return of his body from Bolivia.

As the flight was heading east towards Holguin, the Cuban government has prepared a special flight for relatives of those onboard the plane who live there to fly into Havana. They are expected to fly in overnight. The flight from Holguin to Havana takes an average of an hour and 20 minutes.

Update 5:08PM ET: The Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma reports that eyewitnesses say the plane attempted to turn around and return to the airport shortly after taking off. In doing so, it hit electrical cables and caught fire. Officials do not yet have any information regarding why the plane turned around or any details regarding potential malfunction. They have also not identified the pilot and cabin crew.

Update 4:59PM ET: Granma reports, citing locals who witnessed the crash, that the plane made a sharp turn away from a residential area and crashed into electrical wires. This report corresponds to the explosion seen in the video, and aligns with government reports that the pilot drove the plane into a sweet potato field to avoid crashing into a populated area.

Update 4:57PM ET: ABC News has published video taken from the ground of the moment that the plane exploded (warning: strong language in Spanish):

Update 4:43PM ET: Miguel Díaz-Canel, president of Cuba’s legislature but not top leader of the country, issued remarks to reporters applauding the Castro regime’s handling of the crash.

“I believe the response has been immediate,” he said, listing various ministries, local Communist Party officials, firemen, police, and medical personnel who are on duty in response to the crash. “They took the actions necessary in this sort of event immediately. … The fire is out, the remains are being identified, the Ministry of Transport has opened an investigation.”

“All the appropriate investigations will be made and the results will be announced as soon as possible … the airport is operational and the population of the area has responded with discipline to the events,” Díaz-Canel asserted.

Update 4:15PM ET: Speaking to CubaTV, a doctor at General Calixto García Hospital identified as Comrade Carlos Alberto Martínez Blanco stated that the hospital received four patients, one man and three women. The man arrived deceased, while the three women remain in critical condition.

One woman arrived in a state of shock and sporting what Martínez described as “cranialcephalic trauma.” The second woman had multiple severe injuries including “a severe hematoma” and left tibia fracture. That patient is currently undergoing surgery to help open her lungs.

The third patient was described as having multiple broken bones, head trauma, and severe burns.

Update 4:08PM ET: CubaTV, a government network, has begun to broadcast live on Facebook from the scene of the crash (Spanish):

Update 4:04PM ET: The Cuban government has not provided any more information on what caused the accident. Cuban officials did note, according to El Pais, that the plane’s pilot appeared to have navigated the plane away from an urban area and deliberately crashed it into farmland as soon as it became inevitable that the plane would crash.

Granma reports that the government is busing relatives of those on the flight manifest to the crash scene to help identify victims.

Update 3:41PM ET: Cuban government media (via Martí Noticias) has published more images of the rescue operations, showing rescuers carrying bodies away from the wreckage (warning: graphic images):

Update 3:35PM ET: Cubanet, an opposition outlet that operates both within Cuba and throughout the diaspora, reports that witnesses “cited by international media confirm that the Boeing 737 crashed into a populated area.” This testimony contrasts with the report from the Cuban government, which claims the plane crashed into an agricultural area growing sweet potatoes. If confirmed to be true that the plane crashed into an urban part of Havana, the number of deaths could be higher than initially believed.

Update 3:26PM ET: According to independent Cuban journalist Yoani Sánchez, the Cuban government’s official media published photos that were not of the Havana plane crash shortly after the news broke. “The picture of the plane engulfed in flames that the official press published as being from the accident this Friday and that many of us took from official media to share on social media is not from the island nor from the accident. CAREFUL with state media,” Sánchez wrote.

Update 3:10PM ET: Granma, according to Spain’s El País, has updated the total number of people onboard the plane to 105. The newspaper states that those on the flight manifest were foreigners, and the flight included four children and a two-year-old identified as an infant.

Update 3:03PM ET: AFP has posted video footage of the wreckage, which appears significant. Rescue operations continue. Granma reports that the three individuals confirmed to have survived the crash are in “critical” condition.

Update 2:44PM ET: Granmathe official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, confirms at least three survivors in the crash, who are being rapidly transported to Havana’s General Calixto García University Hospital. Search and rescue opereations are ongoing.

According to Martí Noticias, a Cuban-American outlet based in Miami, Cuban state television have identified the aircraft as a Blue Panorama leased by Cubana de Aviación and used by Damojh airlines.

“There was a big explosion and a fire … the area near the airport is cordoned off,” an unnamed witness told Martí.

In an interview on Cuban television, a Cuban Aeronautics Agency official identified only as “Peña” identified the airline responsible for the plan as being Mexican and said the airport is operating as normal despite the crash occurring near the airports Terminal 1.

A Photo of the crash site has begun appearing on social media.

Cuban government news outlets say President Miguel Díaz-Canel is traveling to the scene of the crash.

Agence France-Presse, which appears to have reporters stationed with Díaz-Canel, quotes him as saying that “it appears there are a high number of victims.” The number of passengers on the plane has been updated to 113.

Prensa Latina, a leftist outlet connected to the Cuban regime, announced via Twitter that the government does not yet have information at press time about the number of injuries, and that the plane landed in an agricultural area near the airport.

The outlet CiberCuba has published a video of the ensuing fire following the crash:

CNN has also published video, apparently taken by locals watching the event unfold (warning: strong language in Spanish):


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