ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Algerian military transport slammed into a mountain Tuesday in the country's rugged eastern region. A civil defense official said 102 people on board were killed but one person managed to survive.
The U.S.-built C-130 Hercules transport crashed about noon near the town of Ain Kercha, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Constantine, the main city in eastern Algeria.
Commander Farid Nechad, who is based in Algiers but was coordinating recovery efforts, told The Associated Press that 103 people including four crew had been on the plane. He said so far only 55 bodies had been found due to the difficult conditions at the crash site.
He did not give any further details about the lone survivor.
Civil defense officials at the scene told journalists that women and children were among the dead at the snowy crash site, presumably from military families. Local reporters said the C-130 plane had broken into three parts.
The plane had taken off from the southern Saharan city of Tamanrasset and was heading to Constantine.
Algerian officials have so far not given an official death toll for the crash. If the reported death toll is confirmed, it would be the deadliest airplane crash in Algeria's history.
The defense ministry, meanwhile, blamed the weather.
"Unfavorable weather conditions and storms accompanied by snow in the region were behind the crash," the ministry said in a statement.
Winds in the area were 17 knots gusting to 28 knots with a visibility of 8 kilometers (5 miles) at the time, according to the aviation-safety.net website.
Lockheed Martin's turboprop C-130 Hercules transport, born out of the experiences of the 1950-53 Korean War, has been used by air forces all over the world to help fight wars or save lives in humanitarian situations. Despite its hulking carcass, the plane is known for its versatility.
The age of the aircraft that crashed on Tuesday was not immediately clear but the model was produced until 1996.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to AP requests for comment on the crash.
The worst plane crash in Algerian history occurred in 2003, when 102 people were killed after a civilian airliner crashed at the end of the runway in Tamanrasset. There was also a single survivor in that crash.
In November 2012, an Algerian military cargo plane crashed in southern France, killing all six people aboard.
Schemm reported from Rabat.