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Algerian military plane crashes, killing 77

The plane was discovered in pieces on Mount Fortas near the town of Ain Kercha, in eastern Algeria.

Mohamed Ali/Associated Press

The plane was discovered in pieces on Mount Fortas near the town of Ain Kercha, in eastern Algeria.

ALGIERS — An Algerian military transport plane slammed into a mountain Tuesday in the country’s rugged eastern region, killing 77 people and leaving just one survivor, the country’s defense ministry said.

Air traffic controllers lost radio and radar contact with the US-built C-130 Hercules just before noon and dispatched helicopters to try to find it. The plane was discovered in pieces on Mount Fortas near the town of Ain Kercha, 30 miles southeast of Constantine, the main city in eastern Algeria.

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The plane had taken off from the southern Saharan city of Tamanrasset, which has a massive military presence due to its proximity to the country’s unstable southern borders, and was heading to Constantine.

It carried 74 passengers and four crew members, the military said. Poor weather was blamed for the crash.

Earlier in the day, Algerian government officials and Algerian state media had reported that the plane had 99 passengers.

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, a retired intelligence officer said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Civil defense officials at the snowy crash site said that the plane broke into three parts, and that children were among the dead.

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