Boeing 737 crash: Cuba mourns 110 victims | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 19.05.2018
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Boeing 737 crash: Cuba mourns 110 victims

Cuba began two days of national mourning for the victims of a plane crash in Havana. President Diaz-Canel ordered a probe into the Boeing 737 accident, which killed all but three of the 113 passengers and crew.

The mourning period for the victims of Friday's Boeing 737 crash began Saturday and will last until midnight on Sunday, former President Raul Castro said.

The plane — carrying 113 passengers and crew — was almost completely destroyed in the crash and subsequent fire. There were only three survivors, officials and state media announced. Earlier reports said there were 110 people on board.

Read more: Boeing 737 crashes on takeoff from Havana airport

Calling it a "catastrophic accident," Castro sent his condolences to families of the victims, according to a government statement.

Investigation underway

The Global Air airplane, which was being operated on behalf of state carrier Cubana, was on a flight from Havana to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin. Most of the passengers were Cubans, with five foreigners, including two Argentines, among them. Six crew members were Mexican nationals.

The cause of the accident remains unclear. President Miguel Diaz-Canel told media that an investigation was underway to determine why the 40-year-old Boeing 737 went down.

Mexico said it was sending specialists to help with the investigation.

Emergency services arrive at the scene of the accident after a Cubana de Aviacion aircraft crashed after taking off from Havana's Jose Marti airport

Castro: 'A catastrophic accident'

Condolence messages

Russian President Vladimir Putin and many Latin American leaders expressed their sympathy with families of the plane crash victims.

"Our message of condolence for the families and the victims of the deadly accident [on Friday] in Havana. Strength and peace to them at this moment of pain. They have all our support," said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia expressed their "support and solidarity for the families of those who died and best wishes for the recovery of those who were injured."

Past issues with air safety

Cubana has withdrawn many of its own planes from service in recent months because of mechanical problems.

Cuba has a poor record on air safety. The most serious accident to date was in September 1989, when an Ilyushin 62 jet operated by Cubana and carrying 126 people crashed after taking off from Havana bound for Milan, Italy.

Among Cubans, Cubana is notorious for frequent delays and cancellations, a problem the airline blames on a lack of parts and airplanes due to the US trade embargo on Cuba. Cuban First Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa met Cubana officials on Thursday to discuss improvements in its heavily criticized service.

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