20 Evangelical Priests among Those Killed in Cuban Plane Crash

Amanda Casanova

Nearly 100 people, including 20 evangelical priests, were killed Friday after a passenger jet crashed after takeoff from Cuba.

According to, the 20 clergymen had been meeting in Cuba’s capital city. The plane was headed for the province of Holguín.

“On that plane were 10 couples of pastors. 20 people. All of the Nazarene Church in the eastern region,” said Maite Quesada, a member the Cuban Council of Churches, according to NBC News. 

Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo said 110 people were killed in the crash.

“We have the black box in our hands, in good condition,” he said, according to Reuters.

Three women, however, were rescued from the plane wreckage. They are in critical condition. 

Emiley Sánchez de la O, 39, of Holguín, Cuba has been named as a survivor. According to reports, she has serious burns, a broken leg and a traumatic brain injury. She is on a ventilator.

“She is alive but very burnt and swollen,” a relative of the 39-year-old told reporters.

Another survivor is 23-year-old Gretel Landrove, according to Reuters.

“My daughter is a fighter, she’s strong, she’ll save herself,” said Amparo Font, Landrove’s mother.

Eyewitness Yasniel Diaz said it looked like the pilot tried to attempt an emergency manuever but failed.

“The explosion shook everything,” he said. “I started running. I was so afraid.”

A Mexican charter company, Damojh airlines, leased the plane to carrier Cubana de Aviacion. The Mexican charter company has a history of safety violations, according to

In one complaint, a former pilot with the airline company said he had complained before about poor maintenance on the planes.


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Publication date: May 21, 2018