Cuba confirms 110 dead in Friday's plane crash, 3 survivors in serious condition

Cuba confirmed on Saturday that 110 people were dead from Friday's Boeing 737 crash close to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.

Relatives of the victims of the airplane crash wait at the entrance of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Havana in Havana, Cuba, on May 19, 2018. 

Cuba confirmed on Saturday that 110 people were dead from Friday's Boeing 737 crash close to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.

Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo told a press conference that of the 110 dead, 99 were Cubans, 11 foreigners including six Mexican crew members, two Argentines, one Mexican and two temporary foreign residents.

Up to now, only 15 bodies have been identified, the minister said, adding officials were working intensively to identify the rest of the victims, whose remains were transferred to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Havana.

Yzquierdo said the three survivors of the tragic accident have been identified as Mailen Diaz, 19, Gretell Landrovell, 23, and Emiley Sanchez, 39.

They are receiving special medical attention at the Calixto Garcia University Hospital in the capital, and their condition is critical.

One of the plane's two black boxes has been recovered in good condition, specifically the one with the voice recordings. Investigators continue to sift through the rubble for the second black box containing flight data, Yzquierdo said.

Representatives of the aircraft's manufacturer are arriving to help in the investigations, as are international experts, to determine what caused the crash.

The aircraft leased by Cubana Airlines from the Mexican company Damojh crashed a little past noon on Friday, minutes after taking off from Terminal 1 of Havana's Jose Marti International Airport.

Built in 1979, the plane passed its last inspection in November 2017, Mexican officials said.

Families mourn their loved ones

Outside the Institute of Legal Medicine in Havana, where the remains were being taken for identification by the victims' families and relatives who were coming to terms with the sudden loss of their loved ones.

"We were at the airport waiting for her, longing to see her after a year of being apart, and she was also longing to see me, my nine-year-old son, my brother, everyone," said Leonardo Martinez, whose mother Luz Marina Miranda died in the crash.

Amalia Santiesteban, a close friend of a victim as yet unidentified, lamented what happened and said, "There has been full national attention. The government took care of the affected families in Holguin and met all their needs."

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who immediately arrived at the accident site on Friday, also visited the institute on Saturday and later met the three survivors of the crash at the hospital.

Flags were flying at half mast on Saturday as part of two days of mourning following the worst air disaster in Cuba in decades.

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