By Helen Massy-Beresford in London
An Air Algérie Lockheed Martin L100-30 Civilian Hercules transport aircraft has crashed in Piacenza, northern Italy, en route from Algiers to Frankfurt.
The civilian cargo aircraft broke up on impact in a field in the Besurica district of the city killing the three crew on board. Italian safety body Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV) says it has launched a technical investigation into the crash, which happened at 20:15 on Sunday.
ANSV said the aircraft (7T-VHG, pictured below prior to the accident) was in contact with Milan air traffic control at 24,000ft (7,300m) but lost contact as it descended through 13,500ft for an unknown reason.
The newspaper reports that the pilot had warned air traffic control in Milan that there had been a loss of engine power. The impact of the crash was “devastating”, creating a crater at the point of impact and scattering pieces of the aircraft over several kilometres and pieces of the aircraft landed in the courtyard of a nearby farm, according to Il Corriere della Sera. Some witnesses have reported seeing the aircraft in flames before it crashed.
ANSV says it has contacted authorities in Algeria and in the USA where the aircraft was manufactured as part of the investigation.
According to to Flight's aircraft fleet database ACAS, the aircraft was 25 years old.