CAIRO — An Algerian military transport plane carrying at least 78 people crashed Tuesday in eastern Algeria, and rescuers who rushed to the scene found one survivor but confirmed the deaths of dozens of others, the state news agency said.
The aircraft, a U.S.-built C-130, went down in mountainous terrain as it was making its descent in the province of Oum El Bouaghi, about 250 miles east of the capital, Algiers, the official Algeria Press Service said. Seventy-four passengers, mostly soldiers and their families, and four crew members were reported to be aboard.
The news agency quoted a senior military official, Col. Lahmadi Bouguern, as saying that bad weather, including strong wind gusts, may have caused the crash. By nightfall, 52 deaths had been confirmed by rescuers, the news service said.
Earlier reports said that more than 100 people had been aboard, but the figure was revised downward.
The lone survivor — a soldier — suffered head injuries and was treated at a nearby military facility before being flown to the military hospital in Algiers, the Associated Press reported, citing a retired intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Civil defense officials said the plane broke into three parts, and that women and children were among the dead, the AP also reported.
The plane took off from Tamanrasset, which lies in Algeria's south and serves as a major military hub. It was bound for the northeastern city of Constantine.
It would be the North African country's deadliest aviation accident since an Air Algeria Boeing 737 crashed on takeoff from Tamanrasset in 2003. All but one of the 103 people aboard were killed.
Hassan is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Laura King contributed to this report.