Small plane crashes in central Cuba, killing 16 people including 12 foreigners - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Small plane crashes in central Cuba, killing 16 people including 12 foreigners

BAEZ, Cuba (AP) _ Divers were pulling the bodies of 16 people _ among them a dozen foreigners, including two Canadian children _ from a reservoir Friday after a small Soviet-made plane carrying tourists to an exclusive resort crashed in central Cuba.

The single-engine Antonov AN-2 went down Thursday in a reservoir formed by a dam near this small community just south of the city of Santa Clara, about 165 miles east of Havana. All 16 people aboard were killed.

The chartered plane was traveling from the central city of Cienfuegos to Cayo Coco, a resort in the keys stretching along Cuba's northern coast, according to Mia Yen, spokeswoman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa.

Cuba's government said a German couple, six Canadians including two children aged 5 and 6, four Britons and four Cubans died in the crash.

The cause of the crash was not known. Metal parts and other debris from the plane were scattered among the modest farm houses nearby, suggesting the craft was falling apart as it went down.

Ramon Sampiero said he was feeding his pigs when he saw the plane over Baez, an agricultural community of 7,000 residents.

``I saw it fly very low, but did not hear it crash,'' Sampiero, 65, said Friday.

Reporters kept about 800 yards from the site could see divers from two small boats retrieving human remains and debris from the water on Friday. The Associated Press reporters saw seven funeral cars with caskets leaving the site around dawn, but it was not clear how many bodies had been recovered.

More than 1,000 Cuban police officials, firefighters, military representatives and Communist Party officials surrounded the dam, which lay amid rolling hills dotted with farm homes, crops and the local cemetery. Firetrucks and cranes were stationed nearby and a military helicopter buzzed overhead.

Santacruz Santana, 71, said she heard a loud noise Thursday afternoon and ran outside to find a large piece of metal painted blue sitting in the middle of her flower garden.

Witnesses who rushed to the dam to investigate said they could see the plane's tail jutting out of the water. They said at least one piece of twisted steel from the craft had been pulled from the water, along with some luggage and shoes.

Canadian Embassy officials were traveling to the crash site.

The AN-2 model, the world's largest biplane, was operated by the small local charter company Aerotaxi. The telephone at the company's Havana office rang unanswered Friday.

In the past, some AN-2 planes were used by Soviet paratroopers, but most were used as small passenger planes that traveled within the former Soviet Union.
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