Morocco military plane crash kills 78

Emergency workers at the scene of the crash near Guelmim

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Seventy-eight people were killed when a Moroccan military aircraft crashed into a mountain in the south of the country, the army says.

The army said three other people were severely wounded in the crash, in what is thought to be one of Morocco's deadliest air disasters in years.

The C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed near Guelmim, just north of the disputed Western Sahara territory.

Officials have blamed the accident on poor weather.

"Above all, it was the fog and bad weather conditions that are believed to be behind this accident. But for the moment, we don't have enough information," AFP news agency quoted an official from the interior ministry as saying.

A local resident told Reuters news agency there was thick fog at the time of the crash.

National mourning

The plane was travelling from Dakhla, in the Western Sahara, to Kinitra in northern Morocco.

It crashed at about 09:00 (08:00 GMT) as it was attempting to make a scheduled stop at a military airbase some 10km (six miles) east of Guelmim.

It was carrying 81 people: nine crew members, 60 troops and 12 civilians.

Forty-two bodies have been found. The search continues for the others.

King Mohammed VI has declared three days of national mourning and ordered that prayers of remembrance be held on Friday in all mosques.

The king has also sent a message of condolence to the families of the victims.

The mineral-rich, mainly desert territory of Western Sahara is the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. Most of it has been under Moroccan control since 1976.

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