Latest: 257 people killed in military plane crash, Algeria's defense ministry says

12.15pm: Algeria's defense ministry has now said that 257 people have been killed in the military plane crash.

The military plane carrying soldiers and their families crashed soon after takeoff in farmland in northern Algeria in what appeared to be the worst plane crash in the North African nation's history.

Those killed included 247 passengers and 10 crew members, Algeria's defence ministry said.

The cause of the crash was unclear and an investigation has been opened, it added.

The ministry said that most of the victims were soldiers and their relatives and that the victims' bodies were transported to the Algerian army's central hospital in the town of Ain Naadja for identification.

Local media reported that the plane crashed just after taking off.

Emergency services converged on the area near the Boufarik military base after the crash.

Footage from the scene showed thick black smoke coming off the field, as well as ambulances and Red Crescent vehicles arriving at the site.

Firefighters and civil security officers work at the scene of a fatal military plane crash in Boufarik, near the Algerian capital, Algiers. Photo: AP Photo/Anis Belghoul

Earlier: Algerian emergency services say that the death tally stands at 181 after a military plane crashed soon after take-off in a farm field in northern Algeria.

The cause of the crash was unclear, and an investigation has been opened, according to the Defence Ministry.

Emergency services converged on the area near the Boufarik military base after the crash.

"There are more than 100 deaths. We can't say exact how many at this point," said Mohammed Achour, chief spokesman for the civil protection agency.

He said the plane was carrying soldiers.

The Defence Ministry did not provide a death toll but expressed condolences to the victims' families.

The flight had just taken off from Boufarik, about 20 miles south west of the capital Algiers, for a military base in Bechar in south-west Algeria, Mr Achour said.

It was scheduled to stop off in Tindouf, southern Algeria, home to many refugees from the neighbouring western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco.

The Soviet-designed Il-76 military transport plane crashed in an agricultural zone with no residents, Mr Achour said.

- Digital Desk and Press Association

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