When did the accident occur?
The accident occurred at 12:08 p.m. on Friday May 18, when a Boeing 737-200 rented by Cubana de Aviación, with a crew from abroad and 107 passengers on flight DMJ 0972 from Havana to Holguin, plummeted to the ground shortly after taking off, in an area between José Martí International Airport and the town of Santiago de Las Vegas.
How many people were aboard and who were they?
Authorities at the Ministry of Transport reported that aboard flight were a total of 113 personas:
• 58 women
• 55 men
Crew: Six Mexican nationals
• 102 Cubans resident in seven provinces, of these 67 from Holguín
• Toursits: Two Argentines and one Mexican
• Two Saharawi temporary residents, assumed to be students in Cuba
(The list of victims is available at www.granma.cu/accidente-aereo/2018-05-19/publican-listado-de-pasajeros-de-avion-accidentado-19-05-2018-17-05-34)
Were there any survivors?
Four persons survived the accident, although one died en route to the hospital. The three surviving women are in critical condition, being treated at Calixto García University Hospital.
Dr. Carlos Alberto Martínez Blanco, hospital director identified the patients as Gretell Landrovell Font from Havana, and Mailén Díaz Almaguer and Emiley Sánchez de la O from Holguin. All have undergone surgeries and extraordinary efforts are being made by a multi-disciplinary team to maintain their hemodynamic stability and treat their multiple injuries. Their prognosis is uncertain.
Where does the investigation of possible causes stand?
The investigation commission, presided by Cuba’s Civil Aeronautics Institute is conducting an exhaustive study of all evidence, with the Ministry of the Interior providing collaboration.
The cadavers of all 109 victims were recovered and transported to the forensics center, by 3:30 a.m. May 19. Identification will be a slow process given the severe effects of the impact and fire on bodies.
The voice black box of flight DMJ 0972 has been recovered in good condition, and the search continues for the data box, stated Minister of Transport Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez, during a Saturday press conference.
Authorities in the United States, where the plane was manufactured by the Boeing company, asked to participate in the investigation and Cuba agreed. Other international experts have also joined the effort.
What do we know about the company which rented the aircraft to Cubana Airlines?
Minister Yzquierdo said that renting aircraft from foreign companies is a common practice for Cubana, principally because the U.S. blockade makes purchasing them difficult.
“There are different formulas for this,” he said, “In this case, Global Air was responsible for maintenance. We had rented this airplane less than a month ago. We have all the documentation showing that the crew was certified and capable.”
How frequent are aviation accidents in Cuba?
Since the 1960s, fewer than 10 serious accidents with loss of life or severe consequences have been recorded.
The most tragic occurred in September of 1989, in which 160 persons died, 126 aboard the plane and 34 on the ground, since the plane hit a populated area near Havana’s José Martí International Airport.