State television and websites said the plane was headed to the eastern city of Holguin and crashed between the airport in southern Havana and the nearby town of Santiago de las Vegas.
The plane lay in a farm field and appeared heavily damaged and burnt, with firefighters spraying water on its smouldering remains. Government officials, including President Miguel Diaz-Canel rushed to the site, along with a large number of emergency medical workers and ambulances. "It seems that there is a high number of victims," Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Residents of the rural area said they had seen some survivors being taken away in ambulances.
The plane was rented by Cubana, which has taken many of its ageing planes out of service in recent months due to mechanical problems.Cubana de Aviación, the national airline of Cuba, has had a troubled history.
Due to US economic embargo, it has largely been dependent on Russian and European aircraft, according to Independent. Havana's airport handles close to six million passengers a year. Photo courtesy: @ritakhoury10 Twitter handle
#Breaking: getting new info #plane #crashed either at high school campus or near it. It’s a national flight headed for #Holguin, on the eastern side of the island according to initial reports. @WPLGLocal10— Hatzel Vela (@hatzelvela) May 18, 2018