Iran's statement on downed Ukrainian airliner

Iran said on Saturday that its armed forces had “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board.

The incident came hours after Iran launched a wave of missiles at Iraqi bases housing American troops in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top generals, in a US drone strike.

The Iranian armed forces were first to acknowledge the error, saying the Boeing 737 had been mistaken for a “hostile target” at a time when enemy threats were at the highest level.

Following are the main elements from the five-point statement:

The armed forces said it had opened an investigation into what it called the “heartbreaking incident” after the Ukraine International Airlines plane (UIA) was brought down on Wednesday.

1. The Iranian armed forces had been on their highest level of alert after launching missiles at Iraqi bases housing US troops and following “threats by the criminal American president and military commanders.”

2. Flights by the US military had increased around Iran after the missile operation and following some reports of aerial targets moving towards “strategic centres” in the Islamic republic.

3. After taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, UIA flight PS752 turned, got close to a “sensitive military site” of the Revolutionary Guards and appeared to fly like a “hostile target.” Due to “human error“, the plane was hit, which “unfortunately led to the martyrdom of a number of our dear compatriots and loss of life of a number of foreign nationals.”

4. The statement expressed “condolences and sympathy” with the families of those who died and gave an assurance that a “repetition of such mistakes would become impossible” through changes in operational procedures. It also said the armed forces would immediately present the “culprit” to the judiciary.

5. Finally, it said “relevant officials from the Revolutionary Guards should, as soon as possible, give detailed explanations to the honourable people in the national media.”

  • Published in World

Cargo plane crashes in Congo with presidential staff on board

A cargo plane carrying presidential staff crashed in eastern Congo on Thursday, and all eight passengers and crew are feared dead, a presidential adviser told Reuters on Friday.

The plane, carrying President Felix Tshisekedi’s driver, a logistics manager and some soldiers, was headed from Goma to the capital Kinshasa and went off radar on Thursday afternoon, an hour after departing, a statement from the civil aviation authority said.

Debris of the plane has been found but the passengers are still missing, said adviser Vidiye Tshimanga. He had told Reuters earlier on Friday that eight bodies had been found but said that information was incorrect.

The cause of the accident was not yet clear.

Local media showed a crowd of hundreds of Tshisekedi supporters hitting the streets of Kinshasa after the news broke on Friday morning, fearing that the plane crash had been some kind of failed coup attempt against Tshisekedi. The president took over from long-standing former President Joseph Kabila this year.

No information immediately backed up such a claim.

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Murmansk Authorities Declare Mourning Following Moscow Plane Crash

The authorities of Russia's Murmansk region have declared on Monday three days of mourning, after 41 people died in a crash landing of an Aeroflot''s Supperjet-100 in Sheremetevo airport that had taken off several minutes earlier with with 78 people on board.

Andrei Chibis, Acting Governor of Murmansk Region, stated the necessity to verify the list of the deceased and injured, but the decision to declare the duel was made. The plane was covering a Moscow-Murmansk flight.

The Russian Republic of Yakutia said that its airline of the same name reinforced the technical review of its Superjet-100, although they will continue their work while the Sunday fire on board in Moscow's Sheremetevo airport continues under investigation.

Bolivian President Evo Morales sent his condolences to the relatives of the deceased and expressed his solidarity with the Russian government and people after that tragedy. His is one of the many messages that are pouring into Russia.

The Investigative Committee of Russia confirmed 41 people died, while 37 people survived, including four crew members.

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Only Survivor of Plane Crash in Cuba Starts Rehabilitation

The only survivor of the plane crash in Cuba on May 18, Mailen Diaz Almaguer, is continuing his recovery and has started rehabilitation at the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital in this capital.

The 19-year-old woman was discharged from the Calixto Garcia Hospital, also in Havana, where she was treated for multiple traumas after more than 70 days of a battle for her life, in which a multidisciplinary team participated.

According to medical reports, Diaz Almaguer had complex situations in her evolution as a result of traumatic injuries and their repercussions on her body functions.

Despite experts' efforts, it was necessary to amputate her left leg at knee level, because the critical situation of that extremity compromised her life, Juventud Rebelde newspaper reported. On May 18, a Boeing 737-200 run by the Mexican company Damojh, leased by Cubana de Aviacion, crashed in the vicinity Havana's Jose Marti International Airport in Havana shortly after taking off.

More than 100 people were killed in the tragedy and only three people arrived alive at the Calixto Garcia Hospital: Diaz Almaguer, Gretell Landrove Font and Emiley Sanchez de la O, but the two latter died some days after the accident.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba Plane Crash: Black Boxes under Investigation in U.S.

Cuban Minister of Transport, Adel Yzquierdo, informed today that the black boxes of the Boeing-737 aircraft of the Mexican company Damojh, which crashed on the Caribbean island on May 18, are being investigated in the United States.

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'We still do not know the causes, because the black boxes are in the United States, three of our people are also working there to know the problems that the plane could have, and that can take months,' Yzquierdo stressed at the Havana Convention Center.

We will contact the families once again to explain some things they should know, said the minister when speaking in the permanent work commission of the National Assembly of People's Power (Parliament).

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On May 18, a Boeing-737 aircraft of the Mexican company Damojh crashed at noon in Havana with 113 passengers and crew on board, leaving only one survivor who remains in critical condition and under observation.

  • Published in Cuba

“Few days have passed and I am still shocked”

His workplace is located close to where the plane crash occurred. On May 18, Raul Mejias Catasus was one of the first men to attend to the place of the fatal accident. A Boeing 737-200 crashed after taking off from the International Airport Jose Marti, in Havana.

As civil engineer, he has worked for several years now in the Contractor Company of Aviation Works (CCOA), located near the site of the accident, which allowed him to get quickly to the crash site.

Raul Mejias agreed to give an interview to CubaSi and detailed that when it all happened, he had just walked into his office and “all of a sudden the walls, roof, chairs, and table started shaking as in an earthquake.”

“Lights went out right away. Certainly, the plane had crashed over high-voltage cables. Someone told me that a plane had crashed. Then, I quickly ran into the path that led to the area.”

“This Boeing 737-200 is characterized for having a loud noise compared to others of the same category. And it really impressed me that such noise increased so quickly.”

“I heard three different and mixed noises: the engine noise and other two. One of them sounded like releasing energy and the other as if a welding machine were being used.

Aviation fan —Raul belongs to the Flight Simulation Group from the Aviation Club of Cuba—, he confessed he still cannot believe what happened even though few days have passed.

“I was stunned. I got home and started to flight the simulator in order to have an idea of what had happened. I did hundreds of flight simulations in a Boeing 737.”

“Afterwards, I looked into Google Maps. I saw the exact position from where it took off, the plane path analysis. I tried to find any explanation to such sudden turn. I think the pilot was trying to go back to the airport. It was the absolute despair of a crew that could not hold the stability. Nobody knows what happened in that cockpit. Not to mention the passengers.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

ETECSA is Helping Mourners too

The Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) reinforces and facilitates communications for the families of the victims of the Boeing 737-200, which crashed on Friday with 113 people on board.

Quick and executively, following the guidelines of the Executive President of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA), Engineer Mayra Arevich Marín, ETECSA freed the calls made from the public phones, where these people stayed, as well as the medical staff, authorities and specialists linked to the clarification of the sad event.

ETECSA workers at Tulipán Hotel, which accomodates the relatives of the victims of the plane crash that killed 110 people.

Likewise, and as it was right in such a circumstance, in which they all join shoulders, the company gave these people a recharge GSM (mobile recharge coupon) coupon free of charge.

“In every hand that we reached out to deliver a coupon, we tried to leave the warmth of our solidarity”, pointed out on his Facebook, Javier Ferreira Herrera, head of the Commercial Department of the North Territorial Management of the Havana Division.

Like him, other ETECSA workers decided to support the mourners with the logistical possibilities of the company from that first night. That was, for example, the case of Leidy Díaz Castillo, commercial executive of the Mini Sale Spot of Cerro and Boyeros.

“She hadn’t had time to reach her house back from work”, she tells Cubasi, when a call indicated to her that a new mission awaited her, this time at the Legal Medicine Institute. Firstly there and then at Calixto Garcia Hospital, she delivered the free cards that would allow those people overwhelmed by the tragedy to continue making phone calls.

From that night, Leidy recalls the faces of silent pain that watched her, when she offered them that aid, minimal compared with such huge losses. “I watched their speechless faces and thought about my 20-year-old daughter”, she says.

From social networks, many ETECSA workers have echoed both solidarity and support: “I did not expect less from our enterprise, giving support to those who need it, I am proud of being part of it, thank you!!!”, Eddy David Amaya Abreu says.

Zaymi Blanco Javier, on behalf of all Cubans is grateful for the attention that is offered right now to the victims’ relatives and adds: “I am sure that all commercial executives of the company are willing to collaborate at any time they need us. My condolences to the relatives and thank you again”.

Among the condolences and support phrases that continue to flood Facebook people can also read the one posted by another ETECSA worker, Elisa Alfaro, which could well summarize the feeling that encourages all Cubans today: “In Havana, in Holguin and throughout #Cuba, ETECSA joins the pain of all and as always it puts its resources and services in terms of those who need them before an event of this magnitude. We facilitate services, doctors fight to save the survivors, the people acted with discipline, the press informs minute by minute…., this is #Cuba, this is #ETECSA, this is how we are. #StrengthCuba”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Cuban Experts Identify 50 Fatal Victims of Air Disaster

Cuban experts identified 50 fatal victims of the air disaster occurred last Friday in this capital, today reported the director of the Institute of Legal Medicine, Sergio Rabell.

In statements to the press, the official said that in the last hours they identified 10 other people, five of them foreigners (four of the six Mexican crew members and one of the two Sahrawis living on the island).

According to Rabell, the rapid progress in identifying the remains of the tragedy is due in large part to the experience of the specialists working in the case of the Boeing 737-200, leased by Cubana de Aviacion, which crashed last Friday with 113 people on board.

He also highlighted the tenacity of forensic experts, anthropologists, criminologists and other experts at the Institute of Legal Medicine, and recalled that all the bags with the bodies were already examined and the belongings of the fatal victims were classified.

Only three women -all Cubans- survived the disaster, but one of them, 23-year-old Gretell Landrove, died on the eve, so the total death toll rises to 111.

  • Published in Cuba
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