The plane was headed for Holguin, on the eastern side of the island, from Havana, when it crashed between the airport and the nearby town of Santiago de las Vegas. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel immediately travelled to the scene of the tragedy.
The passenger jet struck a power line after turning back to the airport, witnesses said, according to state media. Initial reports put the number aboard at 104; it was later revised to 110, with 104 passengers and six crew members from Mexico, according to the airline. The state-run Granma newspaper said the majority of those aboard the crashed jet were Cuban nationals, only five passengers were foreigners.
It was reported shortly after the fiery crash that three people on the plane had survived; a military officer who refused to provide his name told reporters that the survivors were found in critical condition and hospitalized. Cuba TV reported that three women had survived the crash and were in "grave condition" at a local hospital. Later, Cuba TV reported that one of the three women that survived the crash had succumbed to her wounds.
A worker at Havana's Calixto Garcia hospital reportedly told Reuters that one of the three crash survivors had died from burns and other trauma. Cuba TV confirmed, citing Calixto García hospital director Carlos Martinez, that three women were in a hospital in Havana in serious condition after the crash. The fourth survivor died shortly after being taken to the hospital.
Diaz-Canel announced that the country's authorities have established a commission to investigate causes of the plane crash.
"On behalf of the government and the party, we express our condolences to the families [of those killed]," he said in an interview with Cuban television.
— Mercer Star News (@MercerStarNews) May 18, 2018
— Gloria Cubas (@Cubas_Gloria) 18 мая 2018 г.
The plane appears to be heavily damaged and burnt, and it took firefighters some time to extinguish the flames that engulfed the jet after it crashed.
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) May 18, 2018
The aircraft was reportedly rented by Cubana de Aviación national airline from Blue Panorama.