Over 100 people have been killed after a Cubana de Aviacion Boeing 737-200 crashed upon take-off in Cuba. The crash, which is being described as the worst air disaster witnessed in Cuba in over 30 years, took place in Havana. Only three people are believed to have survived and they remain in critical condition.
Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is south of both the US state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti, and north of Jamaica. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with over 11 million inhabitants. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.
The Cubana de Aviación S.A. is the nation’s largest airline. It is a state-run airline that was originally founded in 1929. It is considered to be one of the earliest airlines to emerge in Latin America. Its current headquarters is in Havana and its main base is at José Martí International Airport. Originally, it was a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways and later a private company owned by Cuban investors. Since 1959, it has been run by the government.
The first fatal aviation accident was the crash of a Rozière balloon. It occurred in France on 1785 and it resulted in the deaths of its inventor Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier as well as the other occupant, Pierre Romain. In 1908, the first crash involving a powered aircraft took place. It was a Wright Model A aircraft and it resulted in the deaths of its co-inventor Orville Wright and another passenger. The September 11 attacks in New York on 2001, is considered to be the deadliest aviation related disaster. It was a terror attack that resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people (including those who were on the ground). The Tenerife airport disaster, which occurred on March 27, 1977, remains the accident with the highest number of airliner passenger fatalities. It resulted in the deaths of 583 people.
According to initial reports, there were at least 110 people on board during the time of the crash. The incident took place right after take-off from Havana’s international airport on May 18th, 2018. As internet is limited in the country, reports slowly emerged that there had been mass causalities and that only three people had survived.
Even though, the state media is yet to release an official toll number, more than 100 people have died in the crash. This is being considered as one of the worst air disasters to have taken place in Cuba in over three decades.
"There has been an unfortunate aviation accident. The news is not very promising, it seems that there is a high number of victims," Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said after visiting the crash site. He added that the survivors were seriously injured. He also noted, “Things have been organised, the fire has been put out, and the remains are being identified."
Later some reports noted that one of the survivors had passed away but it was clarified that all three while in critical condition, are still alive. Those who witnessed the crash note black smoke rising shortly after an explosion. "The only thing we heard, when we were checking in, an explosion, the lights went out in the airport and we looked out and saw black smoke rising and they told us a plane had crashed," Argentine tourist Brian Horanbuena said at the airport.
Yasniel Diaz, a 21-year-old musician, said the pilot appeared to attempt an emergency landing, but crashed instead. "The explosion shook everything," he said. "I started running, I was so afraid."
Raul Castro sent condolences to families of the victims of the "catastrophic accident," a statement read, as Russian President Vladimir Putin and a string of Latin American leaders also expressed sympathy.
Authorities are still determining the cause of the plane crash.
Our assessment is that all aircrafts that are part of the Cubana de Aviación’s fleet should be thoroughly assessed in the aftermath of this tragedy. Some reports have suggested that the airline that crashed was an ageing aircraft that was at least 40 years old. Passenger safety should be the utmost concern for airline carriers.