WINDHOEK – The Namibian deputy prime minister who also serves as the minister of international relations and cooperation on Sunday expressed her condolences to the government and people of Cuba over a plane crash in that country that killed more than 100 people. According to Cuba’s state media and AFP the Boeing 737-201 aircraft crashed on the way from Havana to Holguin on Friday (Cuba time), killing 107 people. Cuba has begun two days of national mourning.
Speaking to New Era from her village where she is on vacation, the media-friendly Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah offered her sympathy to the Cuban government and people
and families of the 107 victims of the crash.
“It is a very terrible thing, the Namibian government … presents its profound condolences to the families of the victims and expresses solidarity to the Cuban people,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah who also serves as Swapo vice-president.
Cuban News Agency reported that the President of the Cuban Council of State and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, expressed his regret over the tragic air accident.
The state agency said Diaz-Canel together with the government and party authorities arrived immediately at the site of the accident of the aircraft belonging to the Mexican Damojh Company and leased by Cubana Airlines.
In statements to Cuban Television, the head of state expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.
He said there was an immediate response of the authorities with the presence of personnel from public health, firefighters, forensic experts, interior and transportation ministries, the party and provincial government.
The Cuban president said that action was taken immediately and the remains of the victims are being identified, in addition to the creation of a commission of the Interior Ministry to investigate the cause of the accident.
He confirmed that there was no damage to civil centres or homes close to the area where the aircraft went down and highlighted that the population in the zone quickly arrived at the scene to cooperate with the rescue actions.
In addition, present in the area was First Vice President of the Council of States and Ministers, Salvador Valdes Mesa and the First Secretary of the Communist Party in Havana, Mercedes Lopez Acea.
Reports as of 10pm Friday, May 18, indicated that there were three survivors of the airplane crash and they were in a serious condition at the Calixto Garcia University Hospital where they are receiving specialized medical attention.
Meanwhile, a special command post has been created at Frank Pais International Airport in Holguin with Army General Ramon Espinosa Martin and the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Eastern Province, Luis Antonio Torres Iribar, and other authorities.
Family members of victims of the air crash are on their way to Havana to identify their loved ones.
The previous civilian air accident was in November of 2000 when an Aerocaribbean Airlines aircraft crashed from Santiago de Cuba to Havana. As a consequence of the accident, 68 passengers died including four Cuban nationals.