(Adds Defence Ministry statement, local official's comment)
By Hamid Ould Ahmed
ALGIERS, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A military transport plane carrying members of the armed forces and their relatives crashed into a mountain in eastern Algeria on Tuesday, killing more than 100 people, a local official said.
"The plane crashed into a mountain and exploded. Several bodies were burnt to ashes and could not be identified," the official told Reuters by telephone from Oum El Bouaghi province, about 500 km (300 miles) from the capital Algiers.
Colonel Lahmadi Bouguern told the APS state news agency 99 passengers and four crew members had been on board the C-130 Hercules but the death toll was "yet to be determined", adding bad weather and strong winds may have been a factor in the crash.
The private Ennahar TV station, citing "informed sources", said 103 people were killed. Another official earlier told Reuters one person survived the crash and 53 bodies had been recovered so far.
The Defence Ministry said it had set up a commission to investigate the crash. "Details will be provided as soon as new information becomes available," it said in a statement carried by APS. Army Chief of Staff and Deputy Defence Minister Ahmed Gaid Salah would go to the crash site, it added.
The transport plane took off from Algeria's southern Tamanrasset province and was bound for the eastern city of Constantine, APS said.
If the death toll is confirmed, the crash will be the worst in Algeria since 2003 when an Air Algerie jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Tamanrasset, killing 102 people.
(Reporting By Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.