- Cuba’s state-run media reported that a Cubana Airlines Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff on Friday.
- The flight was headed from José Martíi International Airport in Havana to the city of Holguín in the eastern part of Cuba.
- Reports said there were 104 passengers on board.
A passenger jet on Friday crashed after taking off from José Martíi International Airport in Havana, Cuba. According to CNN, Cuba’s state-run television reported that the aircraft involved was a Boeing 737 operated by the country’s state-owned carrier, Cubana Airlines.
Witnesses told the AFP that they saw a large column of smoke appear near the airport.
The flight was believed to be Cubana Flight 972 from Havana to the city of Holguín in the eastern part of the country. There were 104 passengers on board. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said there was a high number of victims.
The AP reports, citing a military officer, that there were only three survivors of the crash and all were in critical conditions. Other officials declined to confirm the survivor totals for the AP.
The aircraft involved in the incident was reportedly a Boeing 737 wet-leased by Cubana Airlines from Mexican airline Global Air. (According to aviation-tracking website Flightradar24, the aircraft involved in the incident was initially believed to be a 26-year-old Boeing 737-400 operated by Blue Panorama Airlines for Cubana Airlines. But Blue Panorama has since told Flightradar24 that its plane was not involved.)
In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing said it was “aware of news reports out of Cuba and closely monitoring the situation.” According to CBS News, this was Cuba’s third major fatal crash since 2010.
Cubana’s director general told state media that the US embargo has made it difficult to acquire new-generation aircraft and parts for its existing fleet, CBS News reported.
The airline has flown 11,700 more passengers than expected from January to April 2018.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2018
Cuba president says 'high number' of victims after plane crashed on takeoff in Havana. The 737 went down in a field adjoining the airport. Cuban media say 104 people were on board; the plane was en route to Holguín, 800 km east of Havana. (Photo courtesy https://t.co/ZGiMRGueqo) pic.twitter.com/fmxUAmODql
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) May 18, 2018
— Paul P. Murphy (@murphy_paulp) May 18, 2018
An earlier version of this story, based in part on a CNN report, misstated that the plane was headed to Guyana.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.