An Algerian military plane has crashed near the capital killing 257 people on board, officials say.
The aircraft came down just after taking off from Boufarik military airport, west of Algiers.
An investigation into the cause is under way. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has declared three days of national mourning.
Most of the dead are army personnel and their families, the defence ministry says. Ten crew members also died.
A senior member of the ruling FLN party said 26 members of the Polisario Front, an Algerian-backed separatist group in Western Sahara, were also among the dead.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the Spanish colonial power withdrew in 1975. The Polisario Front has been fighting for independence since 1976 and has a government-in exile-in Algeria.
The plane, an Ilyushin Il-76, was travelling to Bechar in the south-west of the country. It was scheduled to make a stop in the town of Tindouf, close to the borders with Morocco and the disputed Western Sahara territory.
Wednesday’s plane crash is the deadliest in the world since July 2014, when all 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 died when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
It is also the second-deadliest plane crash since 2003.
The authorities are working to identify remains of those killed. Footage from the scene shows smoke coming off wreckage in a field.
This is not the first major plane disaster in Algeria.
Four years ago a plane carrying military personnel and family members crashed in Algeria, killing 77 people.
The deadliest crashes of the last 15 years
- 17 July 2014: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashes near Grabove in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, 193 of them Dutch. Pro-Russian rebels are widely accused of shooting the plane down using a surface-to-air missile – they deny responsibility
- 19 February 2003: An Iranian military transport aircraft carrying 276 people crashes in the south of the country, killing all on board
- 1 June 2009: An Air France Airbus 330 travelling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashes into the Atlantic with 228 people on board. Search teams later recover some 50 bodies
- 31 October 2015: An Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashes over central Sinai some 22 minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. The Islamic State group’s local affiliate later says it brought down the plane in response to Russian intervention in Syria
- 7 July 2007: A TAM Airlines jet crashes on landing at Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo, in Brazil’s worst-ever air disaster. A total of 199 people are killed – all 186 on board and 13 on the ground