Reports said the 39-year-old Boeing 737 had taken off on an internal flight when it went down into a cassava field not far from the end of the runway just after midday, bursting into flames and leaving huge plumes of black smoke.
A local resident told Granma, the Cuban state newspaper, that the plane crashed after it attempted to return to the airport – making a turn and clipping electricity cables, then plummeting to the ground.
Miguel Diaz-Canel, the Cuban president,visited the scene immediately and said: “There is a high number of people who appear to have died.
“Things have been organised, the fire has been put out, and the remains are being identified.”
Granma reported there was a baby aged under two on board, plus four children.
The Cubana Airlines Boeing 737 had just left the Jose Marti airport when the accident happened.
The paper also said that the crew was “foreign” and that there were foreigners on board, but did not give details.
The three survivors were taken to the Calixto Garcia hospital, in the Vedado district of Havana.
Families of those on board were asked to bring photos of their loved ones to the scene, to assist with identification