Date: July 12th, 1997
Type: Antonov-24
Registration: -
Operator: Cubana de Aviacion
Where: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Report No.: Not Available
Report Date: -
Pages: -

This is not an accident investigation report.

July 12, 1997 - Cuban Plane with 44 Aboard Plunges Into Sea Near Santiago De Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba - A Cuban An-24 passenger plane with 44 people on board plunged into the sea on Friday night shortly after take-off from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba on a flight to Havana, a Havana airport official said.

The airport official said there were eight foreigners among the 39 passengers on board the plane, but did not give any indication of their nationality.

The Cubana de Aviacion flight, on a scheduled trip from Cuba's second city to the capital, was carrying a crew of five.

The official said the plane crashed three minutes after take-off from Santiago de Cuba, which is about 520 miles (850 km) southeast of Havana. The official said she had no further details for the moment.

Cuba's worst airline disaster was in September 1989, when 126 people were killed when a Cuban airlines plane crashed near Havana. Searchers recovered 17 bodies Saturday from the Cuban airliner that crashed into the Caribbean off Cuba's southeast coast, an airline official said. Another 27 people aboard were missing.

Additional Information

- Recovery teams searching Caribbean waters where a Cuban airliner crashed recovered the plane's in-flight data recorder and 21 bodies on Saturday, an official report said. The other 23 people aboard the aircraft were missing. Cubana de Aviacion Flight 787 plunged into the sea Friday night about three minutes after takeoff from the southeast city of Santiago de Cuba en route to Havana, airline spokesman Manolo Fernandez told The Associated Press by telephone from Havana. Fernandez said 39 passengers and a crew of five were on the Russian-made, twin-engine An-24 aircraft. Fernandez said there were eight non-Cubans on the flight - six Spaniards and two Brazilians. Cuban navy ships and air force planes searching calm seas about 2 1/2 miles off the coast found the plane's in-flight data recorder, or black box, and parts of the fuselage, the official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported.

The flight recorder will be examined by a 40-member Cuban government commission to determine the cause of the accident. Cuba's Civil Aviation Institute said that local authorities believe there were no survivors of the crash. Passenger lists cited by Prensa Latina showed most of the Cuban victims were residents of Havana, including a 9-year-old girl. Six Spaniards and two Brazilians also had been aboard the plane. Fernandez said the search for missing passengers would continue through the night, aided by air force planes and boats equipped with search lights.

Santiago de Cuba Mayor Luis Estruch said seven boats, helicopters and dive teams were participating in the search. ``The accident happened in a very inaccessible area because it is very deep,'' he told reporters. ``We are trying to recover the largest amount of bodies possible and to face this difficult moment with the cooperation of everyone.'' The An-24, which can carry about 50 people, has been out of production since 1978. More than 1,000 were built and many went into service beginning in the early 1960s, mostly in former Soviet bloc nations.

In Havana, a few people waited early Saturday at the city's international airport for word on those aboard the flight from Santiago de Cuba, which is about 500 miles southeast of Cuba's capital. Others arrived earlier and left; officials at the airport refused to speak to reporters.

July 16, 1997 Update- Report: Cuban Planes Engine Failed (12/07/97)

MEXICO CITY- The crash of a passenger jet off the Cuba coast that claimed 44 lives was probably caused by the failure of one of the plane's two engines, a Cuban investigative commission concluded.

Wreckage has yet to be recovered from deep waters off Cuba's southeastern coast, but thus far there is no evidence of any explosion during Friday's crash of the Russian-built An-24 jet, said a report issued Tuesday by the State Investigation Commission of Cuba's Civil Aviation Institute.

``The most credible hypothesis about the probable cause of the accident is that the left-side engine ceased functioning during takeoff,'' the official Cuban news agency, Prensa Latina, quoted investigators as saying. "Cubana de Aviacion Flight 787 plunged into the sea about three minutes after takeoff from the southeast city of Santiago de Cuba en route to Havana."

A voice data recorder recovered by Cuban search terms did not contain any clues to what caused the crash. The plane's data recorder, or black box, has yet to be located. The plane was in good mechanical condition and had received appropriate maintenance prior to the flight, the report said. Flight control and airport services also were ruled out as possible causes of the accident.

The bodies of 22 of the 44 people aboard the flight have been recovered. Twenty-one of them have been identified and turned over to relatives. Thirty-nine passengers and a crew of five were on the flight, including eight non-Cubans: six Spaniards and two Brazilians.

The search for remaining bodies and the airplane wreckage has been made difficult by strong currents and deep waters. The crash site is about 2 1/2 miles off the Cuban coast.

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