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10 Cuban Pastors and Their Wives Confirmed Dead in Devastating Plane Crash

05-19-2018

A passenger plane crashed Friday near Havana, Cuba, killing 110 people including 20 Christian leaders - pastors and their wives.

CBN News' Spanish-language division Mundo Cristiano has confirmed through the Council of Churches of Cuba that the evangelical leaders were from the Nazarene Church. They were traveling back to eastern Cuba, after having participated in a spiritual retreat.

"They were leaving an event at the El Nazareno evangelical seminary and were returning to their province in the eastern region," Maite Quesada of the Council of Churches of Cuba told CBN News.

The director of the region of the Church of the Nazarene of Mesoamerica, Carlos Sáenz, also confirmed the news of the death of the pastors.

"Let the whole family of the Church of the Nazarene join in prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters," Saenz asked.

The Boeing 737 commercial aircraft, rented from the Mexican firm Global Air, owner of Aerolíneas Damojh, crashed minutes after taking off from the José Martí International Airport, in Havana, heading towards the city of Holguín at the eastern end of the island.

The authorities state that there are three surviving women, hospitalized and in critical condition.

"It seems that there are a high number of victims," said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel hours earlier, who visited the site of the incident, where a huge plume of smoke was raised, according to El País.

Carlos Alberto Martinez, the director of the Calixto Garcia Hospital in the Cuban capital, where the three Cuban women are being treated, told The Associated Press the three women who survived the crash are in extremely grave condition. 

Martinez says the women “present severe injuries” and their state is “critical.”

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the plane to crash shortly after takeoff Friday. 

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported the Mexican charter company has been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba’s national airline.

The plane was barred from Guyanese airspace last year after authorities discovered that its crew had been allowing dangerous overloading of luggage on flights to Cuba, Guyanese Civil Aviation Director Capt. Egbert Field told the AP.

**The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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