Military authorities have confirmed that there was a sole survivor among the 74 passengers and four crew on board an Algerian air force Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport (7T-WHM) that crashed in poor weather on approach to Constantine airport in the mountainous northeastern province of Oum el-Bouaghi.

The aircraft was flying a routine transport service from Tamanrasset in the far south of Algeria to Constantine via Ouargla. Contact with the aircraft was lost at 11:37 local time on 11 February. A statement from the Algerian defence ministry said “adverse weather conditions prevailed in the region”, including lightning and snow.

Algeria C-130H crash - Rex Features

Rex Features

The crew were in radio contact with Constantine approach control, expecting to land on runway 34, at an airfield elevation of 2,316ft (706m). The runway has an instrument landing system that was advised serviceable at the time. The aircraft struck Mount Fortas, about 25km (16 miles) south of Constantine. That is beyond the point at which the published ILS descent procedure begins.

According to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database, there have been 416 serious accidents involving C-130s since the type first entered service with the US Air Force in the 1950s. More than 2,500 have been built, and considering the variety of military roles performed, the aircraft is considered very safe. The air force of neighbouring Morocco lost a Hercules in July 2011, with 71 killed on board.

The defence ministry says it has set up a commission of inquiry.