YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images
Stacey Leasca
Updated May 18, 2018

On Friday, a Boeing 737 airliner with Cubana de Aviación, Cuba's largest national airline, crashed near José Martí International Airport in Havana, Cuban media reported.

According to the BBC, the flight was a national flight meant to travel from Havana to Holguín, on the eastern side of the island. The route typically takes about one hour and 20 minutes. The plane crashed soon after takeoff near a motorway and a high school in the Boyeros neighborhood, which is located next to the airport, according to Airlive.

Following the crash, CNN reported that witnesses could see a large fireball followed by “a towering plume of smoke,” which was visible from the airport. Furthermore, CNN noted, casualties have been reported. There were at least 104 people, possibly including the crew, onboard.

According to NBC, government officials, including President Miguel Díaz-Canel – who was just sworn in last month – rushed to the crash site. Witnesses in the area also told NBC they saw some survivors being taken away in ambulances.

The airline has been plagued with issues as of late. As CNN noted, in just the last few weeks Cubana de Aviación has been forced to ground a number of their aging planes due to safety issues. However, the cause of Friday’s crash is still unknown.

Update:

The Cuban state-run newspaper Granma reported Friday that just three people of the 104 on board survived the crash. All three were rushed to an area hospital in critical condition.

The aircraft was owned and operated by the Mexican company Global Air, The Washington Post reported. In a statement Boeing said, “We are aware of news reports out of Cuba and are closely monitoring the situation.”

Now, the investigation into why the crash occurred will begin. If the Cuban government chooses it can invite both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. As The Washington Post explained, it is often routine for the agencies to assist investigations anywhere in the world when a U.S.-made plane crashes.

This is a developing story.

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