Three survivors so far
A plane preparing to land at Guelmin air base in southern Morocco crashed into a mountain on Tuesday in bad weather. 78 of the 81 people aboard are believed to have died. So far, the remains of 42 people have been found. Khalid Naciri, the Moroccan information minister, has stated that the search is continuing. The three survivors are seriously injured, according to MAP news agency. The aircraft was reportedly carrying nine crew, twelve civilians and sixty military personnel.
Officials blame bad weather conditions for the crash
The AFP news agency quoted an official from the interior ministry as saying that, “Above all, it was fog and bad weather conditions that are believed to be behind this accident. But for the moment, we don’t have enough information”. Reuters were told by a local resident that at the time of the crash, there was a thick fog.
The journey had barely begun when the accident took place
The accident is said to be Morocco’s worst air cash in years. The aircraft was a Moroccan C-130 Hercules military transport plane, and was preparing to land close to the disputed Western Sahara. Naciri said that the aircraft was headed for Kinitra in northern Morocco, and made a stop at Guemlin air base en route from Dakhla in the Western Sahara.
The air base is just north of the Western Sahara; whilst the capital of Morocco, Rabat, is over 373 miles north-east from Guelim.
The Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony. Morocco took the mineral rich land in 1979. UN peacekeepers have been in the area since 1991, whilst the Saharawi people desire to establish the area as its own independent state. Although the UN have demanded a referendum, Morocco has as an alternative suggested that the 500,000 people who are currently living in the thinly populated flat desert land should be granted wide-ranging autonomy.