Evangelical church mourns 20 pastors killed in Cuban plane crash

People react during a religious ceremony where victims of the Boeing 737 plane crash were remembered at a church in Havana, Cuba, May 20, 2018. | Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini

An evangelical church in Cuba has confirmed that 20 of its members were among those who perished in a plane crash near Havana last Friday.

According to Reuters, at least 110 people were killed after a Boeing passenger jet headed for Holguin crashed shortly after take-off from Havana.

The Council of Churches of Cuba, which represents the evangelical churches in the country, has confirmed that among those killed were ten pastors and their wives.

"The Church of the Nazarene in the region of Mesoamerica confirmed that 10 couples of pastors of our church in the East district of Cuba were on that flight," Carlos Sáenz, regional director of the council said, as reported by Evangelical Focus.

"We ask you with all respect to unite with us in prayer for all the families and relatives that have been affected by this tragedy. Let's ask God for peace and strength in these moments of so much doubt, shock and pain," Sáenz added.

The council noted that nine of the couples were heading back home to their province in the eastern region after attending an event at the El Nazareno evangelical seminary.

Flags were flown half-mast in Cuba on Saturday to mark the start of two days of national mourning for the victims of the crash.

The crash has been said to be the worst in Cuba in nearly 30 years. The authorities are reportedly working to identify the remains of some victims. Relatives of the victims came to the morgue to provide information to help the authorities identify their bodies.

Three women have survived the accident, but they reportedly sustained major injuries and remain in critical condition. Reports have indicated that a baby was also on board the flight.

Calixto Garcia Hospital director Carlos Alberto Martinez noted that the survivors were seriously injured, but stressed that doctors were always hopeful about the recovery of their patients.

According to NBC News, most of the victims were Cuban nationals, but the Argentinian government noted that two of its citizens were on board the plane. The Mexican government also stated that several Mexican citizens have died in the crash.

The authorities have reportedly recovered the cockpit voice recorder in good condition, but they are still searching for a second black box that contained mechanical data.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel expressed grief over the accident saying, "On behalf of the Cuban government and the Communist Party, we regret the events and we join in the condolences of the families."