Death toll in Algerian plane crash reduced to 76

ALGIERS, Algeria

Lt. Nassim Bernaoui of Algerian Civil Defense said the military plane carried a total of 77 people, not 78. There was no explanation for the change.

The Algerian military transport slammed into a eastern mountain on Tuesday as it flew to the city of Constantine. The plane, which took off from the southern desert city of Tamanrasset, made a stop in Ouargla, where some passengers left, creating confusion over exactly how many were on board when the crash occurred.

The military blamed the crash on high winds and snow storms.

The soldier who survived is reported to have severe head injuries but otherwise there's been no information released about his condition.

Bernaoui said recovery operations in the rugged region involved nearly 500 men and the bodies - including those of women and children - have been sent to Constantine's military hospital. Many emergency workers reportedly had to walk miles (kilometers) to get to the crash site near Mount Fortas.

The plane was at least 24 years old, according to sales information supplied by its maker, Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Algerian presidency announced a three-day period of mourning starting Wednesday, calling the soldiers who had died "martyrs for the country."

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